Fiction

CORSET SCENES IN MAINSTREAM FICTION

  Copyright 1996-2017 LISA


NOTE:

If you wish to contribute to this feature, please send all excerpts to us, including authors, publishers and dates of publication if possible.


Adaline Vénician, André Chamson -- A young girl requests her maid to tighten her laces even more.   EXCERPT (And now translated into English!)

The Aloha Moon, Cheryl Carrol.     EXCERPT

Always ('Forever' Trilogy),  Jude Deveraux (Mass Market Paperback) -- The heroine is drawn psychically back into the 19th century and
faints because her corset is so tight. There are more descriptions of corsets and tight-bodiced crinoline gowns through the story.  
Buy the book

The American Diary of a Japanese Girl, Yoné Noguchi, 1901   EXCERPT

The American Empire: Blood and Iron, Harry Turtledove, 2002, Del Rey (mass market paperback bestseller)

 -- One scene is of a congresswoman making love with a fellow congressional member. In another, a woman finds out that she was pregnant and thinks about the effect this will have on her ability to wear corsets or such.  One of the best involves Ophelia Clemens (daughter of Samuel) who is interviewing an elderly General Custer, with this following excerpt:

He wouldn't have minded having Ophelia Clemens interview him, either. She was a  fine-looking...woman somewhere between forty and forty-five, Dowling guessed---with red-gold hair very lightly streaked with gray, and with an  hourglass figure that had yielded nothing (well, next to nothing) to time.

An Anonymous Story, Anton Chechov     Available in the collection from Amazon, entitled The Lady With and the Dog and Other Stories.

[The narrator is a footman in a St Petersburg household]
I did not get on with Polya [the maid]. She was a well-fed and pampered hussy who adored Orlov because he was a gentleman and despised me because I was a footman. Probably, from the point of view of a real flunkey or cook, she was fascinating, with her red cheeks, her turned-up nose, her coquettish glances, and the plumpness, one might almost say fatness, of her person. She powdered her face, coloured her lips and eyebrows, laced herself in, and wore a bustle, and a bangle made of coins. She walked with little ripping [sic; should be “tripping”?] steps; as she walked she swayed, or, as they say, wriggled her shoulders and back. The rustle of her skirts, the creaking of her stays, the jingle her bangle and the vulgar smell of lip salve, toilet vinegar, and scent stolen from her master, aroused me whilst I was doing the rooms with her in the morning a sensation as though I were taking part with her in some abomination.

Apache Tears,  Georgina Gentry       EXCERPT    

The Bag of Saffron, Bettina von Hutten, 1918    Sources:  #1   #2

Miss Effie was a little annoyed at her sister’s thus turning character-interpreter, a role she regarded exclusively as her own.
“So she’s been confiding in you, has she?” she returned. “Did she also tell you why she didn’t pick up your spectacles last night after dinner ?”
“Why she didn’t pick up” began Miss Flora vaguely.
“Because she couldn’t” Miss Effie interrupted her in triumph that was tinged, as so much triumph is, with malice. “That frock was so tight she could hardly breathe. She dared not stoop!”

Belle Brittan On a Tour, Hiram Fuller, 1857    Source

The scandal of the week is the notorious "Woodman case"; and pray, consider me blushing up to my very eyebrows while alluding to so scandalous
an affair. Mrs. Caroline Woodman, as all the world is learning, is the wife of a New-Orleans druggist, and being the daughter of a fashionable dress-maker, passed for a fashionable lady. I remember seeing her at Saratoga and Newport two or three years ago, with her thirty trunks, and a new dinner-dress for every day during "the season." She was pointed at by the gossips for her remarkably small waist, or, as was said, for "being laced within an inch of her life," no one at that time suspecting her guilty of "loose habits."

The Best of Sisters, Dilly Court      EXCERPTS      Source      Amazon

The Betrayal (A living Dead Girl Novel), Tamsin L. Silver    BUY THE BOOK

Atlanta rushed into her bedroom and shut the door, her mind going a hundred miles a minute. Jumping between what she should wear, to what her dream meant. With a frustrated grunt, she tossed the towel and pulled out her black corset, long black pencil skirt, heeled lace-up boots and started to work herself into the outfit.
Grayson’s voice came through her door, “I woke her up. She cussed me out in two languages.”
Atlanta smiled. “We’ll call her back as we head out the door. Come in here and help me with this, will you?”
Grayson came in, a lit cigarette in his mouth. Atlanta noted he’d opted for a simple pair of black leather pants and a see through black shirt with sparkles that showed off his well-defined chest and abs nicely. As he sauntered in, Gray attached his choker behind his neck. “Corset time?”
“Yep.” She yanked the cig from him and took a drag, then spun to hold onto the tall bedpost, “Pull, girlfriend, pull.”
Grayson was used to this. Working the laces like a pro, he pulled her already hourglass figure into a more severe version and tied it off. “Can you breathe?”
“A bit.”
“Then it’s not tight enough,” he joked and took his cig back.
“Ha ha. I’d like to breathe thank you very much. Passing out on the dance floor is so last season.”
“Breathing is overrated. You look hot though.”
Atlanta turned to inspect herself in the door size mirrors on the closet. Her already ample cleavage now heaved out the top of the corset. Tucking it back in just enough so they didn’t resemble chin rests, she noted her new boots had her normal five foot ten stature now over six foot, making her an inch or two taller than Grayson. “It works. You ready?”

Black Soil, Josephine Donovan, 1930, Boston  MA, The Stratford Company  -- The story of the arrival of European immigrants in northwestern Iowa, particularly that of an Irish farming family who faces the challenges of settling the area. The title refers to the farmland of this area.    
EXCERPTS         BUY THE BOOK      ELECTRONIC TEXT

Bleak House, Charles Dickens, 1853      Available on Project Gutenberg     EXCERPTS

Blix, by Frank Norris, 1899   Available on Project Gutenberg

His little sister was much more tractable. She had been christened Alberta, and was called Snooky. She promised to be pretty when she grew up, but was at this time in that distressing transitional stage between twelve and fifteen; was long-legged, and endowed with all the awkwardness of a colt. Her shoes were still innocent of heels; but on those occasions when she was allowed to wear her tiny first pair of corsets she was exalted to an almost celestial pitch of silent ecstasy. The clasp of the miniature stays around her small body was like the embrace of a little lover, and awoke in her ideas that were as vague, as immature and unformed as the straight little figure itself.

Bluebonnet Belle, Lori Copeland    Source

Checking her appearance by feel, April carefully rearranged her hat on curls that had taken her a full hour to fashion. She hoped she looked pleasing to Henry today. She’d
worn the princess-style dress he favored, recalling how he swore its bluebonnet belle color exactly matched her eyes. The dress was outrageously overpriced, but Grandpa was good about letting her purchase whatever she wanted from the mail-order catalogs.

Turning slowly, she glanced down, perusing the cut of the dress. The jacket was fastened atop a full overskirt. The buirasse [sic] bodice was tight and molded to the hips -
an effect, if the look in Henry’s eyes was any indication, he appreciated.

Tugging at the close-fitting waist, she wished she could wear the style without a long, tight corset. It was a good thing her job required her to stand, she couldn’t have hoped
to sit with any semblance of grace.

Blue Moon (a/k/a "The Adventures of Julian Robinson", Victorian Library -- A Victorian governess applies petticoat discipline to an unruly boy in England. Corsets are the main stay (sic) but in the latter part of the book, there is a shopping trip to London in which Julian is outfitted in corset, petticoats and dresses.    BUY THE BOOK

Boyhood, Leo Tolstoy, 1854

Likewise, Lubotshka was continually at loggerheads with Mimi because the latter wanted her to have her stays so tight that she could not breathe or eat or drink in comfort, while Katenka, on the contrary, would often insert her finger into her waistband to show how loose it was, and always ate very little.

Breakthroughs, Harry Turtledove  --  A South Carolina woman's corset is mentioned.  She is having herself measured for trousers so she can hunt down the socialist revolutionaries who burned down her plantation, and were then hiding in a nearby swamp. The scene is small, only about half a page.

Bring on the Empty Horses, David Niven, 1975, Hamish Hamilton (UK) 
EXCERPT

Built for Power, Kathleen Brooks     SOURCE   PURCHASE BOOK    EXCERPTS

Chloe and the Spy, by Justine Wittich, 2002, Five Star, re-issued by Belgrave House      EXCERPTS

Corolla, Aimée Parkison. Her narrator reminisces about her Aunt Joan, a beautiful, glamorous and sexy woman. The period is unclear, but Aunt Joan was clearly well corseted:

From her bedroom window, I watched the men, the metal lighters glaring in their fumbling hands while Joan rummaged through her twin closets. She glanced over a series of red dresses, satin, lace, and dyed muslin. Even though she was an attractive woman and no one was wearing corsets anymore, Aunt Joan had never given up the corsets her mother taught her to wear when she was a young girl. She tightened her beige corset by tying the straps to the bedposts and leaning down toward the floor, straining and sucking in air until the straps pulled tight as the silvered strings on Dougy’s guitar.  Her waist was so tiny then, I wondered how she could eat. Her back was so stiff she couldn’t turn all the way around to look at herself in the mirror, but she was beautiful from any angle. Her figure was the perfect hourglass I longed for.  Under her corsets, her ribs were gradually deformed, small as a child’s, turning in on themselves in the years since her girlhood.

There are other, more passing references, especially to Aunt Joan's figure being permanently altered by long-term tight-lacing. The tone is rather negative, but it's there.    ARCHIVED ON LINE

A Contemporary Account of Life as a Fashion Model in a Parisian Couture House,1903     ARCHIVED ON LINE        EXCERPT

The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber, 2003, Canongate        EXCERPT

Chance of a Lifetime, Vivian Vaughan, 1999, Zebra

The following sentence is contained in an old book review of these novel, which sounds like it contains a well-written 'lacing' scene: 'Readers will feel the whalebone stays digging into Sabrina's sides as her mother laces her to fit a too-tight gown.'  

Confederates Don't Wear Couture, Stephanie Kate Strohm       EXCERPTS        PURCHASE BOOK

The Corset Dairies, Katie MacAlister, Onyx Books, 2004                    EXCERPT

"...a romantic novel about a woman who find love on the set of a 'reality' TV show in which she takes the role of a wealthy Victorian lady (the story is evidently inspired by real TV shows like The 1900 House and The Edwardian Country House).  As the title suggests, the heroine and narrator of the story spends most of her time in a tight-laced corset. There is a 'lacing scene' and various (mainly negative) references to her inability to breathe, eat or bend while wearing it, though she also has some positive things to say about her new appearance."  Charles S.

A Day in the Life of a Victorian Servant, Leonore Davidoff, 1976, Allen & Unwin                  EXCERPT

Daughter of Fortune, Isabel Allende, 2008, Harper                    EXCERPTS

A Death at the Rose Paperworks, M. J. Zellnik, Miriam Zellnik, 2006 Llewellyn Publications      BUY THE BOOK

(page 7)  Adele Rose was a rather haughty woman, with the look of a pampered lapdog. She was soft and pink and rounded at every extremity. It took all of Libby’s ingenuity, not to mention the sturdiest whalebone corset available from Sears & Roebuck, to bring Mrs Rose anywhere near to the fashionable ideal.

(page 175) “Miss Seale, I insist this dress be taken in. Look at me, I’m practically swimming in it!” In fact, the dress Adele Rose wore flattered her figure far more than her usual style, which required tightening her corset to within an inch of its life and thereby accentuating every bulging curve of her ample body.

Debutantes
, Charlotte Bingham, 1995 (Doubleday) - A beautiful society hostess of the 1890's, famous for her tightly corseted figure, is twice depicted involved in her lacing rituals.      EXCERPT

Dunham (Book 4 in 'The Tales of Dunham'), Moira Jovan

Features a lusty female privateer called Captain Fury, who is not so rough and tough as to refuse tight corsets when the occasion demands them. Here is a Google Books link in which all references to 'stays' are highlighted. There is a lot of explicit sex, and in particular on page 124. Fury's lover deliberately laces her too tightly before they start - causing her to climax with such vigour that 'her stays popped open'.

The Edwardians, Vita Sackville-West, 1930, Virago -- dressing scene to stop the heart!  (Set in 1905)     EXCERPT

Emma Maybe, (Illustrated fiction, 4th in the 'Manga Emma' series), Kaoru Mori, 2007 -- features  a couple of very nice lacing scenes

Emma the Slavey Makes Good In Vaudeville, Helen Green, from At the Actors’ Boarding House and Other Stories, 1906      Source

The next night at dinner Mr. McDuff, when he had spotted Emma, whistled softly in astonishment. She sported a red ribbon about her neck, and a clean gown. And where once none had known where her waist began or left off, Emma's form showed a certain smart curving in at the waist line, which only a straight front corset could produce.
Her Sunday stays would not permit of the absolute freedom of movement which Mr. McDuff called “sloppy,” but she was repaid for this by the approving glance which the “fair man”—he had light hair, and it needed cutting—cast in the direction of the waist.


The Emu’s Head: A Chronicle of Dead Man’s Flat
, W. Carlton Dawe, 1893, London, Ward & Downey  
ARCHIVED ON LINE   EXCERPTS

Falling in Love, Emily Gee    

Amateur romantic fiction. Our heroine is tightly corseted so that she can wear a designer dress for a posh party, and is a tremendous social success.    SOURCE    EXCERPT

The Fat and the Thin, Émile Zola  ARCHIVED ON LINE       EXCERPT

The Finger
, Linda Blayblock, 1968 --
wonderful fetishistic description                EXCERPT 

The Game is Afoot, Roberta Rogow, 2005 

“Mrs. Dawson looked, if anything, more affronted.  ‘They do not travel with servants,’ she said.  ‘Mr. Brown was quite taken aback when they arrived, quite alone, without even so much as a maid for Mrs. Roosevelt.’
"Holmes raised an eyebrow at this revelation.  I privately wondered who, if anyone, did up Mrs. Roosevelt’s buttons and stays, which, as I recalled from my own married days, could be a tedious task.

Das gesprengte Mieder, ("The Split Bodice") Susanna Kubelka --  Classical corsetting    EXCERPT

The Gilded Lily, Helen Argers, 2002, St. Martins

Stephen K.: From Amazon, a review of this novel set among the American fashionable elite in the 1870s. The professional reviews are a bit contemptuous, but the one reader who has left a comment enjoyed it, and also mentions something you might also appreciate:

When one of the young ladies, determined to outdo Nina De Bonnard in smashing appearance, appears wearing her corset laced to such a punishing degree that she faints--the women are shocked by her lack of protocol. One of them, known as the arbiter of taste, exclaims, "We're causing comment on the promenade!" and the young woman is quickly removed to the Ladies' Comfort Station, where the torturous corset is unlaced so she can breathe again.

Gloriana or The Unfulfill’d Queen, Michael Moorcock, Allison and Busby, 1978 EXCERPT

Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936 -- Introduction of Scarlett's waist; Mamie lacing her mistress; nap time during a picnic; a seduction scene.

Half Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls      PURCHASE BOOK

Even though we lived four miles from Toyah and days would go by without seeing anyone outside the family, Mom worked very hard at being a lady. She was dainty, only four and a half feet tall, and her feet were so small she had to wear button-up boots made for girls. To keep her hands elegantly white, she rubbed them with pastes made from honey, lemon juice and borax.
 
She wore tight corsets to give her a teeny waist - I helped her lace them up - but they had the effect of causing her to faint. Mom called it the vapors and said it was a sign of her high breeding and delicate nature. I thought it was a sign that the corset made it hard to breathe. Whenever she'd keel over, I'd have to revive here with smelling salts, which she kept in a crystal bottle tied around her neck with a pink ribbon.

The Greenwood Legacy, by Jacquelyn Cook    EXCERPT            PURCHASE BOOK

Here Comes the Bride, Pamela Morsi (public domain - republished, 2000 by Avon)    EXCERPTS

The Hidden Goddess, M.K. Hobson, Spectra/Bantam, 2011

Emily stood like a mannequin in a lace-trimmed chemise and petticoats while the women bustled about her, drawing tight the corset lacings until her waist had been compressed to the
    nineteen inches that the Gods of Fashion had handed down as the standard of female beauty.

“You’ll need to let that rest for a while,” the lead fitter said as she went to busy herself with the gown. “We’ll have to tighten it again before we put the dress on.”
“Tighten it again?”
    Emily moaned, looking at Miss Jesczenka. The woman was sitting in a corner
sipping tea and watching the proceedings.

The laces and fabric will stretch,” she said. “You wouldn’t want to ruin the fit of the dress with a slack corset.”
“I still don’t know why I couldn’t have worn one of those nice flowing dresses that so many ladies are wearing now,” she said.
“Yes, I can see that you’d be much more comfortable as an
    aesthete.”  Miss Jesczenka dipped a cookie into her tea. “But this is not England, and you’re not going to be romping through fields of poppies.”

Emily grunted discontentedly. “I shall surely faint!”

“That will be very becoming and maidenly. And you can be assured that I shall be nearby all night with smelling salts to revive you. But do take care to fall in an attractive arrangement,
    won’t you?  It wouldn’t be very nice to sprawl yourself out in front of all the Institute’s distinguished guests.”

Emily glared at her, but Miss Jesczenka just smiled and dipped another corner of her cookie into the tea.

After a half hour of letting the corset relax itself as it would - a half hour after which Emily found she could breathe a little easier - the fitters attacked her again, drawing the laces
    tighter and tying them off with seemingly sadistic satisfaction.

“Nineteen inches on the nose!” said the lead fitter, using a tape to measure Emily’s waist.

Emily tried to take some comfort in the fitter’s pride but there wasn’t much to be found. Her blood pounded in her ears, and every time she moved little black sparkles danced behind her
    eyes. She wondered how one went about falling in an attractive arrangement.

Highland Fling, Tess Mallory, 2003, Lovespell The reviewer doesn't seem to think much of the book, but it evidently contains references to tight-lacing:  
'Much is made out of Chelsea’s twenty-nine inch waist being squeezed down to twenty-four thanks to the corset so she can fit into a dress, yet later she slips the thing on all by herself with no trouble.'
The full review can be read at
w
ww.theromancereader.com/mallory-fling.html
 

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cover

Histoire comique, Anatole France, 1903    Translated as A Mummer's Tale , 1921       EXCERPT

The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, Henry Fielding, 1742     Source

Fanny was now in the nineteenth year of her age ; she was tall and delicately shaped ; but not one of those slender young women who seem rather intended to hang up in the hall of an anatomist than for any other purpose. On the contrary, she was so plump that she seemed bursting through her tight stays, especially in the part which confined her swelling breasts. Nor did her hips want the assistance of a hoop to extend them. The exact shape of her arms denoted the form of those limbs which she concealed ; and though they were a little reddened by her labour, yet, if her sleeve slipped above her elbow, or her handkerchief discovered any part of her neck, a whiteness appeared which the finest Italian paint would be unable to reach. Her hair was of a chestnut brown, and nature had been extremely lavish to her of it, which she had cut, and on Sundays used to curl down her neck, in the modern fashion. Her forehead was high, her eyebrows arched, and rather full than otherwise. Her eyes black and sparkling ; her nose just inclining to the Roman ; her lips red and moist, and her underlip, according to the opinion of the ladies, too pouting.

The Honored Dead, Robert N Macomb, 2009, Pineapple Press -- "Marston was a woman of indeterminate upper middle age, whose ample girth was corseted into a positively painful-looking hourglass figure. My back hurt just to see it. She was dressed in blue satin right up to her neck, with a bustle that inadequately balanced an inordinately large bosom. Above a glittering diamond choker and matching earrings—I would assume false due to their size—she had long, blonde hair done up in a black, silk-netted bun that appeared, like her corset, about to burst."   BUY THE BOOK

The Hourglass Factory, by Lucy Ribchester, Simon and Schuster, 2015    EXCERPTS             BUY THE BOOK

House of Thieves: A Novel, by Charles Belfoure, Sourcebooks Landmark, 2015     EXCERPT 

Iole, Robert W. Chambers (1905)      FULL TEXT       EXCERPT    

Jaffrey, William J Locke, New York, 1915      Available on Project Gutenberg    EXCERPT 

Janine, Alasdair Gray, 1982, Canongate -- a wonderful description of the application of corsetry in B&D context         EXCERPT

A Jilt’s Journal, 1901, ‘Rita’     EXCERPT

Journey to the River Sea, Eva Ibbotson,  Macmillan Children's Books  (UK) 2001                               BUY THE BOOK

The hair-raising, heart-warming adventures of Maia and her tight-lipped (and tight-corseted) governess

Kernow and Daughter, Malcolm Ross-Macdonald, St. Martin's Press (NY) 1996 and Headline Book Publishing (UK) 1995   
EXCERPT

'King Lehr' and the Gilded Age, Elizabeth Beresford, 1935    ARCHIVED ON LINE

How well I remember the mornings on the sun-bathed piazza of The United States Hotel watching the fashion parade. The women in their latest dresses imported from Paris, skin-tight bodices, skirts of yards and yards of shining silk looped over enormous bustles that swayed as they walked slowly up and down, their waists squeezed into twenty-inch stays, their feet encased in boots at least a size too small for them, their hands buttoned into hot kid gloves.

The Last Asset, Edith Wharton (short story) 1904     ARCHIVED ON LINE

Mrs. Woolsey Hubbard was an expansive blonde, whose ample but disciplined outline seemed the result of a well-matched struggle between her cook and her corset-maker.         

Lawman, Lisa Plumley, 1999, Zebra   EXCERPT

Life of Mrs Elizabeth Carter, Pennington, quoted in The European Magazine, volume LIII, May 1808     Source

[A letter from Mrs Carter to Miss Talbot, sent from Spa, 14th July 1763]
I have seen Princess Ferdinand [of Brunswick] and her suite at the room and at their walks; and a most extraordinary sight they are: they are laced within an inch of their lives, their stays excessively stiff, and their stomachers of an amazing length, nearly approaching to their chins.

Light and Darkness, Catherine Crow, 1850 

Stephen K.: The authoress rather rudely describes a tightly laced fashionable beauty. I did not think of 1850 as a time when extreme corseting was yet the rage, so of course I am pleased to find a contemporary account of it so early. Whatever the writer may have thought, I would have liked to meet Miss Graves!"

Miss Graves was evidently a young lady made up for sale; her waist was contracted to the smallest span ; she was dressed in the height of the fashion; she held her head very high, and her gait was something between a wriggle and a twist, which arose partly from tight stays, and partly from the perpetual consciousness of herself and her figure, which she had been persuaded was very fine, and she believed every eye was fixed upon her when she moved. She was insipidly fair, with very light hair, and white eyelashes; her features were heavy, and her face destitute of expression; but on  the credit of this exceeding fairness she set up for a beauty, and her mother was satisfied that she was one. Of course, she was extremely accomplished, doing a little of everything, without having the slightest genius, taste, or feeling for anything.

Light in the Company of Women, Keith Maillard, Harper-Collins Publishers, 1993         EXCERPTS

Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder,  Scholastic Books, 1932  -- children's tale from the late nineteenth century    EXCERPT

Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harper Collins (a sequel to Little House on the Prairie)    EXCERPT      BUY THE BOOK

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, 1857-- short one-liner--but sweet!

Madame Bovary's Diary, Linda Urbach                EXCERPT     

A Masque of Poets, John Townsend Trowbridge, Boston, 1878        EXCERPT       ARCHIVED ON LINE

The Mathematics of Love, Emma Darwin         BUY THE BOOK  

(The passage is narrated by a British officer injured at the Battle of Waterloo. The period is the 1820s.)            

I slept so well that Katrijn was dressing by the time that I opened my eyes. She was standing at the foot of the bed, braced for Meike to draw up her staylaces. I lay at my ease and watched her. My skin still felt her soft flesh so exactly that it was as if it were my hands and not the calico that closed about her, gripping her belly, waist and back, ever tighter, hook by hook, inch by inch, until only her breasts could swell with each breath about the constriction of cloth and bone.

Lady Sherry and the Highwayman, Maggie Mckeever

Lady Sherry, meanwhile, had withdrawn to her bedchamber with Aunt Tulliver and Daffodil, who had combined efforts to make her presentable for an evening party she had promised to attend. “No, milady, you shan’t cry off!” decreed Daffodil as she applied her foot to the small of her mistress’s back and pulled smartly on the laces of her stays. “You promised that you would go, and so you must, before poor Lord Vicars thinks you’ve changed your mind and wish to break off with him. Anyways, it will do you good to get out of this house and away from Her Highness’s high flights!”

Sherry did not comment. To do so would have been difficult, lying facedown as she was upon her bed while Daffodil attempted to compress her waist into a circumference several inches smaller than nature had intended.

Madame Bovary's Diary, Linda Urbach      EXCERPT            Available from Amazon here.

The Memoirs of Maria Stella (Lady Newborough), Maria Stella Petronilla Chiappini Ungern-Sternber (originally published in French -
this English translation published 1914):     
ARCHIVED ON LINE

Nature had given me a good figure; nevertheless, my father maintained that I stooped, that one of my shoulders was higher than the other, and that my feet grew large too quickly.  To remedy these imaginary defects he made me wear an iron collar, which was taken off only at meal-time, a steel corset that increased the torture and really made me deformed, and shoes so narrow and short that I could hardly walk. When I begged him to take off this painful apparatus, a box on the ear was his usual answer.

Menshikoff or The Peasant Prince, Alfred D'Aveline, 1890     EXCERPT       ARCHIVED ON LINE

Mercy's Ransom, Sandra Leigh, Dragon’s Heart Romance (imprint), 2005         EXCERPT 

The Middle Classes, Honoré de Balzac, 1854 (part II, chapter XIV)    ARCHIVED ON LINE

The event of the day seemed to require a corset, a refinement which she usually discarded. The unfortunate maid, whose duty it was to lace her and to discover the exact point to which she was willing to be drawn in, alone knew the terrors and storms of a corset day.
"I'd rather," said the girl, "lace the obelisk; I know it would lend itself to being laced better than she does; and, anyhow, it couldn't be bad-tongued."

Miriam Coffin (or 'The Whale Fisherman'), Joseph C. Hart, originally published in 1834      EXCERPT

Misterioso, Gilbert Sorrentino     EXCERPT        Buy the full book

Miss 318: A story in season and out of season, Rupert Hughes, 1911. New York.      EXCERPTS

Moths, Ouida, 1880, reprinted 1947 in Novels of High Society from the Victorian Age (with an introduction by Anthony Powell).    EXCERPT    

The Moss People,  Louisa May Alcott -- “It’s time to dress, I suppose, for some one may call. Get out my blue silk and lace head-dress, Dimity,” said Mrs. Prance, going up to her chamber, too busy about her toilet to mind the baby, who was crying in the nursery.
“Lace me tightly. I’m growing stout, I do believe, and my figure will be ruined if I allow it,” said madam; and Dimity squeezed her into such a tight dress that Trip got a pain in her side directly. “I can bear it a little while, but I don’t see how ladies can do it all the time, — it’s dreadful!” she sighed, as Dimity piled her pretty hair in a fuzzy bunch on the top of her head, and hung jewels in her little ears, after putting costly bits of lace here and there, and poking her tiny feet into high-heeled boots that made her totter when she tried to walk. These and her train nearly tripped her up, for, if Dimity had not caught her, Mrs. Prance would have tumbled downstairs.

New Wives For Old, David Graham Phillips, 1908    EXCERPT      FULL TEXT

The Old Chevalier, 'Isak Dinesen' (Karen Blixen)  

Stephen K.: An extract from this long-short story, beautifully written. The Old Chevalier remembers undressing a charming young lady from her 1870s clothes. There are three paragraphs like this. Karen Blixen was not born until 1885, so perhaps she is recalling the reminiscences of some old gentleman who looked back on the days of bustle and corset as a golden age of femininity.

'Old Mrs.Harris', short story published in Obscure Destinies by Willa Cather, 1932     EXCERPT      FULL TEXT

On the Back of the Other Side, Carn Tiernan, 2009      DESCRIPTION AND EXCERPTS

Outlaw’s Kiss,Terri Valentine, Kensington Publishing Corporation, 1991       EXCERPTS

A Proper Affair, Victoria Malvey, 2001      EXCERPT   

Pack of Lies, Gilbert Sorrentino, 1997          EXCERPT  

Peck's Compendium of Fun, George W. Peck, Chicago, 1886      EXCERPT      FULL TEXT  

Princess Rusalka, Frank Wedekind, 1897      Source

And then he was sent here to Zurich on business. As we were sitting in the train a young girl entered. At first she sat in the opposite corner, but when she saw my lover she threw him a glance that made me shudder, and then she sat opposite to him. She said that she was engaged as a waitress. She was laced so tightly that I did not see how she could breathe. And she could not keep her feet still, and she kept fanning herself with a handkerchief that smelled like a menagerie. She exchanged looks with my lover that seemed to imply the most heavenly things, but I did not understand them. Once in a while she would look at me; but then I was ashamed to death. I had on a terribly faded dress, a gray shawl over my head, and I kept my feet curled up beneath me as there were big holes in my shoes. She wore brand new russet shoes with gilded buttons. Her dress was so tight that one could see the outlines of her knees. On her lap she had a box of candy and a bottle of plum brandy. She offered me some of it. I did not want to take any but my lover told me not to be bashful. Just before we reached Lindau, the engine came to a sudden stop, and she almost fell into his arms.

The Professional Widow: Corsetry with Love, Milton Glaze, 2013    EXCERPT      COVER      PURCHASE THE BOOK

Promenade, G. B. Lancaster, 1938, Angus & Robertson Ltd., Sydney and London             FULL TEXT  

The Harbour Board enclosed more of the grey mudflats preparatory to laying another street among the pervasive odours of drying and decaying refuse, and Belinda, who was to come out at the ball which everyone hoped would help the new Parliament to get properly on its feet, was laced so tightly by Caroline that her red cheeks paled and she fainted daily.
“Mamma says I'm to have no more milk or butter till I'm safely married,” sighed Linda, who loved her flesh-pots and plenty of fun and giggles. Darien, who couldn't really go off in an elegant flop yet though her waist was smaller than Linda's, was watching her recovery with critical eyes. It certainly did look a good way to a man's heart.

Pyramids, Terry Pratchett, 2001

"Lady T'malia was stunningly beautiful, but with the kind of calculated beauty that is achieved by a team of skilled artists, manicurists, plasterer's, corsetiers and dressmakers and three hours' solid work every morning. When she walked there was a faint squeak of whalebone under incredible stress." ALSO: "She clasped her hand to her bosom. There was creak like a galleon beating against a gale." 

Rebel Angels, Libba Bray, 2006

Rebels: City of Indra, Kendall and Kylie Jenner (ghost written by Maya Sloan), Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing, 2014    EXCERPT             BUY THE BOOK

The Red Dress,  Liza Alzamora, 1941     FULL SHORT STORY

Remembrance, Jude Deveraux, 1997 -- "The moment she awakens, she faints, due to the unfamiliar sensation of Lady de Grey's extremely tight corset." 

Sand Island Diaries, Lael R. Neill       EXCERPT

Sanditon, Jane Austen (completed after her death by another)  EXCERPT

School Life in Paris, (Printed for the Erotica Biblion Society of London and New York, author[s] unattributed)   1899
                                    
EXCERPTS    FULL WORK    COVER

Seven Little Australians, Ethel Sybil Turner, 1912  EXCERPT

She Walks in Beauty, Siri Mitchell     Source sample     EXCERPT

The seventeen-year-old heroine, whose mother has died and whose figure and manners have been neglected, is taken in hand by a strict aunt and corseted tightly in preparation for her "coming out" into society. This is still available from Amazon, and I have provided a link to where your readers can buy it.

Skinwalker, Susan Fadler      EXCERPT

Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison, 1977 -- musings of a man on his lover's corsets

The Stone Canal, Ken Macleod, 1997, Legend Books    EXCERPT

The Story of Cecilia, Katharine Tynan Hinkson, 1911, Benziger Brothers, New York

Downstairs Mrs. Patrick Grace was discussing Irene with Ciss. “She’s an ugly little thing, with that pasty face, and all eyes, isn’t she?” she said complacently. “Now, my girls have all complexions and figures; I make them have figures — till they’re married, at least. They can do what they like afterwards. Teresa and Eily will be finished next year. As soon as ever they come home, in they go to eighteen-inch stays. They hate it at first, but I tell them it’s for their good. You should see how Fan has spread since her marriage. And Minnie not far behind her. I tell them they’ll be like feather-beds tied in the middle by the time they’re thirty. But as Fan says, Michael can’t go back on her now. Fan lives in a dressing-gown from morning till night.”

Story of O, Pauline Réage, 1965 -- description of the corset and attire of a willingly subjugated woman           EXCERPTS

The Strange Adventures of Charlotte Holmes, Sister of the More Famous Sherlock, by Hilary Bailey, Constable & Co., 1994     EXCERPTS

Swords of the Barbarians, Kenneth Bulmer, 1970   EXCERPTS

Tales from Schneider’s Creek, Deborah Jane Ross     EXCERPTS      Source      Amazon

The Tea Rose, Jennifer Donnelly     EXCERPT  

Tease, Immodesty Blaize                                 Page preview available here.                Book on sale at Amazon here.

If the girls were lucky enough to have a re-call, they would then be made to wear cumbersome, heavy head-dresses and the tightest corsets to see how they could  dance and high-kick with so much restriction. Honey Lou had nearly fainted in her audition, her corset was pulled so tight. She had got to the point of seeing stars, but she was determined to go the distance and make her mark.

To Be a Fine Lady, Elizabeth Jeffrey, 2000   EXCERPT

To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Robert A Heinlein, 1987, Michael Joseph (UK) -- 1988 Sphere Books (UK)   EXCERPT  

 

Tall in the Saddle, 2007, Bella Books -- An anthology of erotic Wild West stories for lesbians. 'You'll thrill as they reinvent the myths of  the old West with a decidedly lesbian slam dunk, weaving tales of saloons, horses, bank robberies, sheriffs, cattle rustlers, guns and very tight corsets and loose women.'

 

The Three Cities Trilogy: Rome, Émile Zola   EXCERPTS

 

Timar’s Two Worlds, Mór Jókai, translated 1894; originally published as Az arany ember ('The Golden Man'), Hungary, 1872       EXCERPTS

 

Tom Burke of "Ours", Charles James Lever, 1853  IMAGE   EXCERPT    SOURCE  

 

The Trial, Franz Kafka -- There is a scene in which Josef K is waiting to see the advocate, and, showing a picture of his girlfriend to the advocate's young housemaid: "She seems very tightly laced," she said, and pointed to the places where the tight lacing seemed most evident." [In this story, Josef K. is constricted and finally suffocated by the presence of the Court, so one could suppose that this scene is a reflection of that theme.]

A Trip to Manitoba, Mary Fitzgibbon, 1880   EXCERPT

Twice Loved, LaVyrle Spencer, 1995 -- Set in the mid 1800s Nantucket, a corset and busk is featured several times
Twilight
, Julia Frankau (writing as Frank Danby), 1916
   EXCERPT       ARCHIVED ON LINE

Une Certaine Dame, Guy des Cars -- seductive striptease [French]

The Unknown Steersman, Irene Burn, 1912 - "She was acutely miserable if a stray hair escaped its netted thraldom, played only the mildest of tennis because she disliked getting hot and untidy, and suffered the acutest discomfort in the hot weather because she would not relax half an inch of the rigour of her trim belts. Her health suffered, of course, and so did her husband's happiness, but she remained neat in all circumstances, and wrote interminable letters about her daughter's corsets to a disquieted headmistress who hailed from Girton and disapproved of waists."   FULL TEXT

Visit to Constantinople and Athens, by Walter Colton, 1836   EXCERPT

Whalebone Stays, by Alexandra Fox  (Included in Waving at the Gardener – The Asham Award Short Story Collection, edited by Kate Pullinger - A&C Black, 2009)
                                                                        EXCERPTS

Where Passion Leads, by Lisa Kleypas,  1987   EXCERPT       BUY THE BOOK

The Wife’s Victory and Other Nouvellettes, by Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth, 1875   EXCERPT

Wild Rose, by Ruth Axtell Morren, Steeple Hill Women's Fiction #15 - On Google Books         On Amazon

Mrs. Bradford, for the first time since Geneva had known her, had been firm about her wardrobe. She’d taken over Geneva’s toilette like a commander, selecting the dress, overseeing the hairdressing, choosing the wraps. No detail had been too minor, no effort spared.

Geneva fingered the silk tulle of her white gown. She’d never felt so delicately feminine as she did tonight. Her skirt billowed around her like a puff of clouds that at the merest breath of wind might blow away. The deep, heart-shaped neckline exposed more neck and shoulders than she’d ever allowed anyone to see.

The bodice, moulded like a second skin, accentuated the bosom Geneva had striven so long to hide. The stiff-boned corset underneath threatened to cut off her breathing.
It had been difficult enough becoming accustomed to wearing one every day, but tonight, she could vow the maid had laced it up a couple of inches tighter.

Geneva didn’t dare sneeze for fear the fastenings of her bodice would pop off. If she managed to avert that calamity, there was the danger of one misstep and the train trailing several feet behind her would get caught under someone’s foot, ripping the delicate fabric clean off her skirt.

A World From Rough Stones, Malcolm Macdonald, 1974, Coronet Books -- The story of an tunneling engineer who becomes rich and famous during the great railway 'boom' in early Victorian England. There is a scene where the engineer's wife, who is from a relatively humble background, is dressing for a dinner party. When she hears that one of the other lady guests has attained a 21-inch waist, she asks two maids to lace her own waist to 20 inches. They don't quite manage it, however, and she has to settle for 20.5 inches. Later the same evening, in a conversation with her husband, she remarks that she would not like to have to endure such tight-lacing all the time. She also demonstrates to him that she cannot raise her arms above her head, because of the tightness of her dress, and says she wouldn't want such 'confinement' all the time either.  EXCERPT

Year of Disunion: A Novel of the Dawn of the American Civil War, Blyte Forcey Toussaint, 2011      EXCERPT

 


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