Yes the Victorians enjoyed parlor games that provoked conversation (to say the least), although good etiquette and manners dictated that one should never embarrass or make any guest feel uncomfortable. All that said, this parlor game of Slander should entertain young ladies of today in the same way it entertained young ladies of the late 19th Century.
The game is extremely easy to play and involves one of the party guests going out of the room whilst the others write down ‘remarks’ about the absent person. These remarks are written separately on a piece of paper and placed in a hat, or similar bowl shaped object. When the absent guest returns a piece of paper is drawn and read out aloud. The person to whom the remark was anonymously made then has to guess which one of the other party guests made the remark. If the guess is incorrect then another remark is drawn and another guess is tried. If the guess is correct then the person who wrote the remark leaves the room and the game continues with remarks being made about the new absent guest. If the guest fails to guess who made the remarks after three attempts then she leaves the room for a second time and the game repeats itself with new remarks. After a second round of guessing if the guest cannot correctly identify who made the remarks then another person takes her place.
The type of remarks made should be in a good spirit but the more intimate knowledge the guests have each other the more precise the remarks can be. Examples of the Slanderous remarks taken for the original description of the game are, “this person is a gossip”, “this person slurps her tea” etc. Some modern examples of suitable remarks would be “this person fell asleep at the cinema”, “this person snores” etc, basically remarks that are not “too” personal but are made from actual observations.
It is clear that, as with a number of Victorian parlor games, there is an element of mischief that the young girls should address with the right party spirit. In fact most, if not all, Victorian parlor games relied on the willingness of all guests to become engaged and participate fully in the spirit of these games. The expression “making our own amusement” really meant something when it pre-dated Radio, TV and the Cinema.
This parlor game will make a great accompaniment to a vintage Victorian tea party, in particular for girls that know each other “really well”.