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  Queen Victoria

Victorian Era

Victorian literature
Victorian architecture


Victorian decorative arts

Victorian Posters
Victorian fashion

Victorian morality
Women in the Victorian era
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Victorian Era
 
 

Queen Victoria, c. 1890
 
 
 
The Victorian era of British history (and that of the British Empire) was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death, on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence for Britain. Some scholars date the beginning of the period in terms of sensibilities and political concerns to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.

The fields of social history and literature often refer to the Victorian era as Victorianism, especially when discussing the attitudes and culture of the later two-thirds of the 19th century. The study of Victorianism is often specifically directed at Victorian morality, which refers to highly moralistic, straitlaced language and behaviour. Those who study Victorianism are Victorianists. The era was preceded by the Georgian period and followed by the Edwardian period. The later half of the Victorian age roughly coincided with the first portion of the Belle Ιpoque era of continental Europe and the Gilded Age of the United States.

Culturally there was a transition away from the rationalism of the Georgian period and toward romanticism and mysticism with regard to religion, social values, and arts. In international relations the era was a long period of peace, known as the Pax Britannica, and economic, colonial, and industrial consolidation, temporarily disrupted by the Crimean War in 1854. The end of the period saw the Boer War. Domestically, the agenda was increasingly liberal with a number of shifts in the direction of gradual political reform, industrial reform and the widening of the voting franchise.

Two especially important figures in this period of British history are the prime ministers Gladstone and Disraeli, whose contrasting views changed the course of history. Disraeli, favoured by the queen, was a gregarious Tory. His rival Gladstone, a Liberal distrusted by the Queen, served more terms and oversaw much of the overall law-making of the era.

The population of England and Wales combined almost doubled from 16.8 million in 1851 to 30.5 million in 1901. Scotland's population also rose rapidly, from 2.8 million in 1851 to 4.4 million in 1901. Ireland's population decreased rapidly, from 8.2 million in 1841 to less than 4.5 million in 1901, mostly due to the Great Famine. At the same time, around 15 million emigrants left the United Kingdom in the Victorian era and settled mostly in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

During the early part of the era, the House of Commons was headed by the two parties, the Whigs and the Conservatives. From the late 1850s onwards, the Whigs became the Liberals. These parties were led by many prominent statesmen including Lord Melbourne, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Derby, Lord Palmerston, William Ewart Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli, and Lord Salisbury. The unsolved problems relating to Irish Home Rule played a great part in politics in the later Victorian era, particularly in view of Gladstone's determination to achieve a political settlement. Southern Ireland achieved independence in 1922.




The Louth-London Royal Mail travelling by train from Peterborough East, 1845


Population in the Victorian era

The Victorian era was a time of unprecedented demographic increase in Britain. The population rose from 13.9 million in 1831 to 32.5 million in 1901. Two major factors affecting population growth are fertility rates and mortality rates. Britain was the first country to undergo the Demographic transition and the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions.


Britain had the lead in rapid economic and population growth. At the time, Thomas Malthus believed this lack of growth outside Britain was due to the 'Malthusian trap'. That is, the tendency of a population to expand geometrically while resources grew more slowly, reaching a crisis (such as famine, war, or epidemic) which would reduce the population to a sustainable size. Britain escaped the 'Malthusian trap' because the Industrial Revolution had a positive impact on living standards. People had more money and could improve their standards; therefore, a population increase was sustainable.
 

Fertility rates
In the Victorian era, fertility rates increased in every decade until 1901, when the rates started evening out. There are several reasons for the increase in birth rates. One is biological: with improving living standards, the percentage of women who were able to have children increased. Another possible explanation is social. In the 19th century, the marriage rate increased, and people were getting married at a very young age until the end of the century, when the average age of marriage started to increase again slowly. The reasons why people got married younger and more frequently are uncertain. One theory is that greater prosperity allowed people to finance marriage and new households earlier than previously possible. With more births within marriage, it seems inevitable that marriage rates and birth rates would rise together.

Birth rates were originally measured by the 'Crude birth rate' – births per year in population per every thousand people. This is thought not to be accurate enough, as key groups and their fertility rates are not clear. It also does not take into account population changes, e.g., same number of births in a smaller population (if men go to war, etc.). It was then changed to the 'Net Reproduction Rate,' which only measured the fertility rate of women who were capable of giving birth.

The evening out of fertility rates at the beginning of the 20th century was mainly the result of a few big changes: availability of forms of birth control, and changes in people's attitude towards sex.



A picture of Leadenhall Street, London, c. 1837

 

Mortality rates
The mortality rates in England changed greatly through the 19th century. There was no catastrophic epidemic or famine in England or Scotland in the 19th century – it was the first century in which a major epidemic did not occur throughout the whole country, with deaths per 1000 of population per year in England and Wales dropping from 21.9 from 1848–54 to 17 in 1901 (contrasting with, for instance, 5.4 in 1971). Class had a significant effect on mortality rates as the upper classes had a lower rate of premature death early in the 19th century than poorer classes did.

Environmental and health standards rose throughout the Victorian era; improvements in nutrition may also have played a role, although the importance of this is debated. Sewage works were improved as was the quality of drinking water. With a healthier environment, diseases were caught less easily and did not spread as much. Technology was also improving because the population had more money to spend on medical technology (for example, techniques to prevent death in childbirth so more women and children survived), which also led to a greater number of cures for diseases. However, a cholera epidemic took place in London in 1848–49 killing 14,137, and subsequently in 1853 killing 10,738. This anomaly was attributed to the closure and replacement of cesspits by the modern London sewerage system.



The Poultry Cross, Salisbury, painted by Louise Rayner, c. 1870


Culture

Gothic Revival architecture became increasingly significant during the period, leading to the Battle of the Styles between Gothic and Classical ideals. Charles Barry's architecture for the new Palace of Westminster, which had been badly damaged in an 1834 fire, was built in the medieval style of Westminster Hall, the surviving part of the building. It constructed a narrative of cultural continuity, set in opposition to the violent disjunctions of Revolutionary France, a comparison common to the period, as expressed in Thomas Carlyle's The French Revolution: A History and Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities. Gothic was also supported by critic John Ruskin, who argued that it epitomised communal and inclusive social values, as opposed to Classicism, which he considered to epitomise mechanical standardisation.

The middle of the 19th century saw The Great Exhibition of 1851, the first World's Fair, which showcased the greatest innovations of the century. At its centre was the Crystal Palace, a modular glass and iron structure – the first of its kind. It was condemned by Ruskin as the very model of mechanical dehumanisation in design, but later came to be presented as the prototype of Modern architecture. The emergence of photography, showcased at the Great Exhibition, resulted in significant changes in Victorian art with Queen Victoria being the first British monarch to be photographed. John Everett Millais was influenced by photography (notably in his portrait of Ruskin) as were other Pre-Raphaelite artists. It later became associated with the Impressionistic and Social Realist techniques that would dominate the later years of the period in the work of artists such as Walter Sickert and Frank Holl.

Industrialization brought with it a burgeoning middle class whose increase in numbers had a significant effect on the social strata itself: cultural norms, lifestyle, values and morality. Identifiable characteristics came to define, in particular, the middle class home. Previously, in town and city, residential space was adjacent to or incorporated into the work site, virtually occupying the same geographical space. The difference between private life and commerce was a fluid one distinguished by an informal demarcation of function. In the Victorian era, English family life increasingly became compartmentalised, the home a self-contained structure housing a nuclear family extended according to need and circumstance to include blood relations. The concept of "privacy" became a hallmark of the middle class life. "... The English home closed up and darkened over the decade (1850s), the cult of domesticity matched by a cult of privacy." Bourgeois existence was a world of interior space, heavily curtained off and wary of intrusion, and opened only by invitation for viewing on occasions such as parties or teas. "The essential, unknowablility of each individual, and society's collaboration in the maintenance of a faηade behind which lurked innumerable mysteries, were the themes which preoccupied many mid-century novelists."



The Epsom Derby; painting by James Pollard, c. 1840
 

Entertainment
Popular forms of entertainment varied by social class. Victorian Britain, like the periods before it, was interested in literature (see Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Brontλ and her sisters and William Makepeace Thackeray), theatre and the arts (see Aesthetic movement and Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood), and music, drama, and opera were widely attended. Michael Balfe was the most popular British grand opera composer of the period, while the most popular musical theatre was a series of fourteen comic operas by Gilbert and Sullivan, although there was also musical burlesque and the beginning of Edwardian musical comedy in the 1890s. Drama ranged from low comedy to Shakespeare (see Henry Irving). There were, however, other forms of entertainment. Gentlemen went to dining clubs, like the Beefsteak club or the Savage club. Gambling at cards in establishments popularly called casinos was wildly popular during the period: so much so that evangelical and reform movements specifically targeted such establishments in their efforts to stop gambling, drinking, and prostitution.

Brass bands and 'The Bandstand' became popular in the Victorian era. The band stand was a simple construction that not only created an ornamental focal point, but also served acoustic requirements whilst providing shelter from the changeable British weather. It was common to hear the sound of a brass band whilst strolling through parklands. At this time musical recording was still very much a novelty.

The Victorian era marked the golden age of the British circus. Astley's Amphitheatre in Lambeth, London, featuring equestrian acts in a 42-foot wide circus ring, was the epicentre of the 19th century circus. The permanent structure sustained three fires but as an institution lasted a full century, with Andrew Ducrow and William Batty managing the theatre in the middle part of the century. William Batty would also build his own 14,000-person arena, known commonly as Batty's Hippodrome, in Kensington Gardens and draw crowds from the Crystal Palace Exhibition. Travelling circuses, like Pablo Fanque's, dominated the British provinces, Scotland, and Ireland (Fanque would enjoy fame again in the 20th century when John Lennon would buy an 1843 poster advertising his circus and adapt the lyrics for The Beatles song, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!). Fanque also stands out as a black man who achieved great success and enjoyed great admiration among the British public only a few decades after Britain had abolished slavery.

Another form of entertainment involved 'spectacles' where paranormal events, such as mesmerism, communication with the dead (by way of mediumship or channelling), ghost conjuring and the like, were carried out to the delight of crowds and participants. Such activities were more popular at this time than in other periods of recent Western history.

Natural history became increasingly an "amateur" activity. Particularly in Britain and the United States, this grew into specialist hobbies such as the study of birds, butterflies, seashells (malacology/conchology), beetles and wild flowers. Amateur collectors and natural history entrepreneurs played an important role in building the large natural history collections of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Many people used the train services to visit the seaside, helped by the Bank Holiday Act of 1871, which created a number of fixed holidays which all sectors of society could enjoy. Large numbers travelling to quiet fishing villages such as Worthing, Brighton, Morecambe and Scarborough began turning them into major tourist centres, and people like Thomas Cook saw tourism and even overseas travel as viable businesses.




The railways changed communications and society dramatically

 

Technology and engineering
An important development during the Victorian era was the improvement of communication links. Stagecoaches, canals, steam ships and most notably the railways all allowed goods, raw materials and people to be moved about, rapidly facilitating trade and industry. Trains became another important factor ordering society, with "railway time" being the standard by which clocks were set throughout Britain. Steam ships such as the SS Great Britain and SS Great Western made international travel more common but also advanced trade, so that in Britain it was not just the luxury goods of earlier times that were imported into the country but essentials and raw materials such as corn and cotton from the United States and meat and wool from Australia. One more important innovation in communications was the Penny Black, the first postage stamp, which standardised postage to a flat price regardless of distance sent.

Even later communication methods such as cinema, telegraph, telephones, cars and aircraft, had an impact. Photography was realised in 1839 by Louis Daguerre in France and William Fox Talbot in the UK. By 1889, hand-held cameras were available.

Suspension bridge between two brick built towers, over a wooded gorge, showing mud and water at the bottom. In the distance are hills.



Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol



Similar sanitation reforms, prompted by the Public Health Acts 1848 and 1869, were made in the crowded, dirty streets of the existing cities, and soap was the main product shown in the relatively new phenomenon of advertising. A great engineering feat in the Victorian Era was the sewage system in London. It was designed by Joseph Bazalgette in 1858. He proposed to build 82 mi (132 km) of sewer system linked with over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) of street sewers. Many problems were encountered but the sewers were completed. After this, Bazalgette designed the Thames Embankment which housed sewers, water pipes and the London Underground. During the same period London's water supply network was expanded and improved, and a gas network for lighting and heating was introduced in the 1880s.

The Victorians were impressed by science and progress, and felt that they could improve society in the same way as they were improving technology. The model town of Saltaire was founded, along with others, as a planned environment with good sanitation and many civic, educational and recreational facilities, although it lacked a pub, which was regarded as a focus of dissent. During the Victorian era, science grew into the discipline it is today. In addition to the increasing professionalism of university science, many Victorian gentlemen devoted their time to the study of natural history. This study of natural history was most powerfully advanced by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution first published in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859.


Glasgow slum in 1871



Although initially developed in the early years of the 19th century, gas lighting became widespread during the Victorian era in industry, homes, public buildings and the streets. The invention of the incandescent gas mantle in the 1890s greatly improved light output and ensured its survival as late as the 1960s. Hundreds of gasworks were constructed in cities and towns across the country. In 1882, incandescent electric lights were introduced to London streets, although it took many years before they were installed everywhere.

 

Sport
The Victorian Era saw the introduction and development of many modern sports. Cricket, bicycling, croquet, roller skating, horseback riding, and water activities are examples of some of the popular sports in the Victorian Era. The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham, England, between 1859 and 1865. The world's oldest tennis tournament, the Wimbledon championships, were first played in London in 1877. The first Olympic Games held under the auspices of the IOC were hosted in Athens in 1896. The Games brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 events.



The Aston Villa team of the 1890s.
 

Football
The first football league in the world was established in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor. Aston Villa were the most successful English club of the Victorian era, winning five League titles and three FA Cups by the end of Queen Victoria's reign. Other prominent clubs of the era were Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland and Preston North End. The end of the 19th century saw Britain being swept by football mania, attracting huge crowds of largely working class men.
 

Health and medicine
Medicine progressed during Queen Victoria's reign.

Although nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, had been proposed as an anaesthetic as far back as 1799 by Humphry Davy, it wasn't until 1846 when an American dentist named William Morton started using ether on his patients that anaesthetics became common in the medical profession. In 1847 chloroform was introduced as an anaesthetic by James Young Simpson. Chloroform was favoured by doctors and hospital staff because it is much less flammable than ether, but critics complained that it could cause the patient to have a heart attack. Chloroform gained in popularity in England and Germany after Dr. John Snow gave Queen Victoria chloroform for the birth of her eighth child (Prince Leopold). By 1920, chloroform was used in 80 to 95% of all narcoses performed in the UK and German-speaking countries.

Anaesthetics made painless dentistry possible. At the same time the European diet grew a great deal sweeter as the use of sugar became more widespread. As a result, more and more people were having teeth pulled and needed replacements. This gave rise to "Waterloo Teeth", which were real human teeth set into hand-carved chunks of ivory from hippopotamus or walrus jaws. The teeth were obtained from executed criminals, victims of battlefields, from grave-robbers, and were even bought directly from the desperately impoverished.

Medicine also benefited from the introduction of antiseptics by Joseph Lister in 1867 in the form of Carbolic acid (phenol). He instructed the hospital staff to wear gloves and wash their hands, instruments, and dressings with a phenol solution and, in 1869, he invented a machine that would spray carbolic acid in the operating theatre during surgery.



Working class life in Victorian Wetherby, West Yorkshire
 

Poverty
19th century Britain saw a huge population increase accompanied by rapid urbanisation stimulated by the Industrial Revolution. The large numbers of skilled and unskilled people looking for work kept wages down to a barely subsistence level. Available housing was scarce and expensive, resulting in overcrowding. These problems were magnified in London, where the population grew at record rates. Large houses were turned into flats and tenements, and as landlords failed to maintain these dwellings slum housing developed. Kellow Chesney described the situation as follows: "Hideous slums, some of them acres wide, some no more than crannies of obscure misery, make up a substantial part of the metropolis... In big, once handsome houses, thirty or more people of all ages may inhabit a single room." Significant changes happened in the British Poor Law system in England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. These included significant expansions in workhouses (or poorhouses in Scotland), although with changing populations during the era.

The British Library evanion catalogue has an advertisement for Allen & Sons Cocoa Chocolate and Confectionery Works, c. 1880. The advertisement shows one family in poverty and another which is middle class. This drastic image was normal during the Victorian age when there was a very drastic divide between the classes.



Girl pulling a coal tub in mine.
From official report of the parliamentary
commission in the mid 19th century.

 

Child labour
The Victorian era became notorious for the employment of young children in factories and mines and as chimney sweeps. Child labour, often brought about by economic hardship, played an important role in the Industrial Revolution from its outset: Charles Dickens, for example, worked at the age of 12 in a blacking factory, with his family in a debtors' prison. In 1840 only about 20 percent of the children in London had any schooling. By 1860 about half of the children between 5 and 15 were in school (including Sunday school).

The children of the poor were expected to help towards the family budget, often working long hours in dangerous jobs for low wages. Agile boys were employed by the chimney sweeps; small children were employed to scramble under machinery to retrieve cotton bobbins; and children were also employed to work in coal mines, crawling through tunnels too narrow and low for adults. Children also worked as errand boys, crossing sweepers, shoe blacks, or sold matches, flowers, and other cheap goods. Some children undertook work as apprentices to respectable trades, such as building, or as domestic servants (there were over 120,000 domestic servants in London in the mid 18th century). Working hours were long: builders might work 64 hours a week in summer and 52 in winter, while domestic servants worked 80 hour weeks. Many young people worked as prostitutes (the majority of prostitutes in London were between 15 and 22 years of age).

"Mother bides at home, she is troubled with bad breath, and is sair weak in her body from early labour. I am wrought with sister and brother, it is very sore work; cannot say how many rakes or journeys I make from pit's bottom to wall face and back, thinks about 30 or 25 on the average; the distance varies from 100 to 250 fathom. I carry about 1 cwt. and a quarter on my back; have to stoop much and creep through water, which is frequently up to the calves of my legs." (Isabella Read, 12 years old, coal-bearer, testimony gathered by Ashley's Mines Commission 1842)

"My father has been dead about a year; my mother is living and has ten children, five lads and five lasses; the oldest is about thirty, the youngest is four; three lasses go to mill; all the lads are colliers, two getters and three hurriers; one lives at home and does nothing; mother does nought but look after home.

All my sisters have been hurriers, but three went to the mill. Alice went because her legs swelled from hurrying in cold water when she was hot. I never went to day-school; I go to Sunday-school, but I cannot read or write; I go to pit at five o'clock in the morning and come out at five in the evening; I get my breakfast of porridge and milk first; I take my dinner with me, a cake, and eat it as I go; I do not stop or rest any time for the purpose; I get nothing else until I get home, and then have potatoes and meat, not every day meat. I hurry in the clothes I have now got on, trousers and ragged jacket; the bald place upon my head is made by thrusting the corves; my legs have never swelled, but sisters' did when they went to mill; I hurry the corves a mile and more under ground and back; they weigh 300 cwt.; I hurry 11 a-day; I wear a belt and chain at the workings, to get the corves out;" (Patience Kershaw, 17 years old, coal-bearer, testimony gathered by Ashley's Mines Commission 1842)

Children as young as 4 were put to work. In coal mines, children began work at the age of 5 and generally died before the age of 25. Many children (and adults) worked 16-hour days. As early as 1802 and 1819, Factory Acts were passed to limit the working hours of workhouse children in factories and cotton mills to 12 hours per day. These acts were largely ineffective and after radical agitation, by for example the "Short Time Committees" in 1831, a Royal Commission recommended in 1833 that children aged 11–18 should work a maximum of 12 hours per day, children aged 9–11 a maximum of eight hours, and children under the age of nine should no longer be permitted to work. This act, however, only applied to the textile industry, and further agitation led to another act in 1847 limiting both adults and children to 10-hour working days.



Jack the Ripper's victim
 

Prostitution
Beginning in the late 1840s, major news organisations, clergymen, and single women became increasingly concerned about prostitution, which came to be known as "The Great Social Evil". Estimates of the number of prostitutes in London in the 1850s vary widely (in his landmark study, Prostitution, William Acton reported that the police estimated there were 8,600 in London alone in 1857). When the United Kingdom Census 1851 publicly revealed a 4% demographic imbalance in favour of women (i.e., 4% more women than men), the problem of prostitution began to shift from a moral/religious cause to a socio-economic one. The 1851 census showed that the population of Great Britain was roughly 18 million; this meant that roughly 750,000 women would remain unmarried simply because there were not enough men. These women came to be referred to as "superfluous women" or "redundant women", and many essays were published discussing what, precisely, ought to be done with them.

While the Magdalene Asylums had been "reforming" prostitutes since the mid-18th century, the years between 1848 and 1870 saw a veritable explosion in the number of institutions working to "reclaim" these "fallen women" from the streets and retrain them for entry into respectable society — usually for work as domestic servants. The theme of prostitution and the "fallen woman" (any woman who has had sexual intercourse out of marriage) became a staple feature of mid-Victorian literature and politics. In the writings of Henry Mayhew, Charles Booth, Charles Dickens and others, prostitution began to be seen as a social problem.



The last of the mail coaches at Newcastle upon Tyne, 1848
 

When Parliament passed the first of the Contagious Diseases Acts in 1864 (which allowed the local constabulary to force any woman suspected of venereal disease to submit to its inspection), Josephine Butler's crusade to repeal the CD Acts yoked the anti-prostitution cause with the emergent feminist movement. Butler attacked the long-established double standard of sexual morality.

Prostitutes were often presented as victims in sentimental literature such as Thomas Hood's poem The Bridge of Sighs, Elizabeth Gaskell's novel Mary Barton, and Dickens' novel Oliver Twist. The emphasis on the purity of women found in such works as Coventry Patmore's The Angel in the House led to the portrayal of the prostitute and fallen woman as soiled, corrupted, and in need of cleansing.

This emphasis on female purity was allied to the stress on the homemaking role of women,[citation needed] who helped to create a space free from the pollution and corruption of the city. In this respect, the prostitute came to have symbolic significance as the embodiment of the violation of that divide. The double standard remained in force. Divorce legislation introduced in 1857 allowed for a man to divorce his wife for adultery, but a woman could only divorce if adultery were accompanied by cruelty. The anonymity of the city led to a large increase in prostitution and unsanctioned sexual relationships. Dickens and other writers associated prostitution with the mechanisation and industrialisation of modern life, portraying prostitutes as human commodities consumed and thrown away like refuse when they were used up. Moral reform movements attempted to close down brothels, something that has sometimes been argued to have been a factor in the concentration of street-prostitution in Whitechapel (where the Jack the Ripper prostitute murders took place), part of the East End of London, by the 1880s (near the end of the 19th century).
 


The Great Exhibition in London. The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to industrialise.

 
 
 
 
Victorian literature




Herbert F. Tucker: A Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture
 

While in the preceding Romantic period poetry had been the dominant genre, it was the novel that was most important in the Victorian period. Charles Dickens (1812–1870) dominated the first part of Victoria's reign: his first novel, Pickwick Papers, was published in 1836, and his last Our Mutual Friend between 1864–5. William Thackeray's (1811–1863) most famous work Vanity Fair appeared in 1848, and the three Brontλ sisters, Charlotte (1816–55), Emily (1818–48) and Anne (1820–49), also published significant works in the 1840s. A major later novel was George Eliot's (1819–80) Middlemarch (1872), while the major novelist of the later part of Queen Victoria's reign was Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), whose first novel, Under the Greenwood Tree, appeared in 1872 and his last, Jude the Obscure, in 1895.

Robert Browning (1812–89) and Alfred Tennyson (1809–92) were Victorian England's most famous poets, though more recent taste has tended to prefer the poetry of Thomas Hardy, who, though he wrote poetry throughout his life, did not publish a collection until 1898, as well as that of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89), whose poetry was published posthumously in 1918. Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909) is also considered an important literary figure of the period, especially his poems and critical writings. Early poetry of W. B. Yeats was also published in Victoria's reign.

With regard to the theatre it was not until the last decades of the nineteenth century that any significant works were produced. This began with Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas, from the 1870s, various plays of George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) in the 1890s, and Oscar Wilde's (1854–1900) The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895.


Novelists

Charles Dickens is the most famous Victorian novelist. Extraordinarily popular in his day with his characters taking on a life of their own beyond the page, Dickens is still one of the most popular and read authors of that time period. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers (1836), written when he was twenty-five, was an overnight success, and all his subsequent works sold extremely well. The comedy of his first novel has a satirical edge and this pervades his writing. Dickens worked diligently and prolifically to produce the entertaining writing that the public wanted, but also to offer commentary on social problems and the plight of the poor and oppressed. His most important works include Oliver Twist (1837–1838), Dombey and Son (1846–1848), Bleak House (1852–1853), Great Expectations (1860–1861), Little Dorrit (1855–1857), Our Mutual Friend (1864–1865) The Old Curiosity Shop, and A Christmas Carol (1843). There is a gradual trend in his fiction towards darker themes which mirrors a tendency in much of the writing of the 19th century.

William Thackeray was Dickens' great rival in the first half of Queen Victoria's reign. With a similar style but a slightly more detached, acerbic and barbed satirical view of his characters, he also tended to depict a more middle class society than Dickens did. He is best known for his novel Vanity Fair (1848), subtitled A Novel without a Hero, which is an example of a form popular in Victorian literature: an historical novel in which recent history is depicted.


The Bronte sisters wrote fiction rather different from that common at the time.


Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontλ produced notable works of the period, although these were not immediately appreciated by Victorian critics. Wuthering Heights (1847), Emily's only work, is an example of Gothic Romanticism from a woman's point of view, which examines class, myth, and gender. Jane Eyre (1847), by her sister Charlotte, is another major nineteenth century novel that has gothic themes. Anne's second novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), written in realistic rather than romantic style, is mainly considered to be the first sustained feminist novel.

Later in this period George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), published The Mill on the Floss in 1860, and in 1872 her most famous work Middlemarch. Like the Brontλs she published under a masculine pseudonym.

In the later decades of the Victorian era Thomas Hardy was the most important novelist. His works include Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895).

Other significant novelists of this era were Elizabeth Gaskell (1810–1865), Anthony Trollope (1815–1882), George Meredith (1828–1909), and George Gissing (1857–1903).

 

The style of the Victorian novel
Victorian novels tend to be idealised portraits of difficult lives in which hard work, perseverance, love and luck win out in the end; virtue would be rewarded and wrongdoers are suitably punished. They tended to be of an improving nature with a central moral lesson at heart. While this formula was the basis for much of earlier Victorian fiction, the situation became more complex as the century progressed. There was a struggle to conquer the flaws of human beings with great virtues. It was a principle that those who struggle to attain morality would most probably achieve positive results in the end if not tortured by natural circumstances or evil vices.
 

Other Literature
Children's literature

The Victorians are credited with 'inventing childhood', partly via their efforts to stop child labour and the introduction of compulsory education. As children began to be able to read, literature for young people became a growth industry, with not only established writers producing works for children (such as Dickens' A Child's History of England) but also a new group of dedicated children's authors. Writers like Lewis Carroll, R. M. Ballantyne and Anna Sewell wrote mainly for children, although they had an adult following. Other authors such as Anthony Hope and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote mainly for adults, but their adventure novels are now generally classified as for children. Other genres include nonsense verse, poetry which required a childlike interest (e.g. Lewis Carroll). School stories flourished: Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays and Kipling's Stalky & Co. are classics.

The publications of magazines and periodicals targeting the childhood population became popular ways to teach children lessons and morals. Rarely were these publications designed to capture a child’s pleasure; however, with the increase in use of illustrations, children began to enjoy literature, and were able to learn morals in a more entertaining way. With the newfound acceptance of reading for pleasure, fairy tales and folk tales became popular. Compiling folk tales by many authors with different topics made it possible for children to read literature by and about lots of different things interesting to them. There were different types of books and magazines written for boys and girls. Girls stories tended to be domestic and to focus on family life, whereas boys stories were more about adventures.



Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate
 

Poetry and drama
The husband and wife team of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning conducted their love affair through verse and produced many tender and passionate poems. Both Matthew Arnold and Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote poems which sit somewhere in between the exultation of nature of the romantic Poetry and the Georgian Poetry of the early 20th century. However Hopkins's poetry was not published until 1918. Arnold's works anticipate some of the themes of these later poets, while Hopkins drew inspiration from verse forms of Old English poetry such as Beowulf.

The reclaiming of the past was a major part of Victorian literature with an interest in both classical literature but also the medieval literature of England. The Victorians loved the heroic, chivalrous stories of knights of old and they hoped to regain some of that noble, courtly behaviour and impress it upon the people both at home and in the wider empire. The best example of this is Alfred Tennyson's Idylls of the King, which blended the stories of King Arthur, particularly those by Thomas Malory, with contemporary concerns and ideas. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood also drew on myth and folklore for their art, with Dante Gabriel Rossetti contemporaneously regarded as the chief poet amongst them, although his sister Christina is now held by scholars to be a stronger poet.

In drama, farces, musical burlesques, extravaganzas and comic operas competed with Shakespeare productions and serious drama by the likes of James Planchι and Thomas William Robertson. In 1855, the German Reed Entertainments began a process of elevating the level of (formerly risquι) musical theatre in Britain that culminated in the famous series of comic operas by Gilbert and Sullivan and were followed by the 1890s with the first Edwardian musical comedies. The first play to achieve 500 consecutive performances was the London comedy Our Boys by H. J. Byron, opening in 1875. Its astonishing new record of 1,362 performances was bested in 1892 by Charley's Aunt by Brandon Thomas.[5] After W. S. Gilbert, Oscar Wilde became the leading poet and dramatist of the late Victorian period.[6] Wilde's plays, in particular, stand apart from the many now forgotten plays of Victorian times and have a closer relationship to those of the Edwardian dramatists such as George Bernard Shaw, whose career began in the 1890s. Wilde's 1895 comic masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, was the greatest of the plays in which he held an ironic mirror to the aristocracy while displaying virtuosic mastery of wit and paradoxical wisdom. It has remained extremely popular.



Charles Darwin's work On the Origin of Species affected society and thought in the Victoria era, and still does today.
 

Science, philosophy and discovery
The Victorian era was an important time for the development of science and the Victorians had a mission to describe and classify the entire natural world. Much of this writing does not rise to the level of being regarded as literature but one book in particular, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, remains famous. The theory of evolution contained within the work shook many of the ideas the Victorians had about themselves and their place in the world. Although it took a long time to be widely accepted, it would dramatically change subsequent thought and literature.

Other important non-fiction works of the time are the philosophical writings of John Stuart Mill covering logic, economics, liberty and utilitarianism, and the large and influential histories of Thomas Carlyle: The French Revolution, A History and On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History permeating political thought at the time with Friedrich Engels writing his Condition of the Working Classes in England and William Morris writing the early socialist utopian novel News from Nowhere. One other important and monumental work begun in this era was the Oxford English Dictionary which would eventually become the most important historical dictionary of the English language.

Nature writing
In the USA, Henry David Thoreau's works and Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours (1850) were canonical influences on Victorian nature writing. In the UK, Philip Gosse and Sarah Bowdich Lee were two of the most popular nature writers in the early part of the Victorian era. The Illustrated London News, founded in 1842, was the world's first illustrated weekly newspaper and often published articles and illustrations dealing with nature; in the second half of the 19th century, books, articles, and illustrations on nature became widespread and popular among an increasingly urbanized reading public.

Supernatural and fantastic literature
The old Gothic tales that came out of the late 19th century are the first examples of the genre of fantastic fiction. These tales often centred on larger-than-life characters such as Sherlock Holmes, famous detective of the times, Sexton Blake, Phileas Fogg, and other fictional characters of the era, such as Dracula, Edward Hyde, The Invisible Man, and many other fictional characters who often had exotic enemies to foil. Spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a particular type of story-writing known as gothic. Gothic literature combines romance and horror in attempt to thrill and terrify the reader. Possible features in a gothic novel are foreign monsters, ghosts, curses, hidden rooms and witchcraft. Gothic tales usually take place in locations such as castles, monasteries, and cemeteries, although the gothic monsters sometimes cross over into the real world, making appearances in cities such as London.



Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Victorian fiction
outside Victoria's domains.
 

The influence of Victorian literature
Writers from the United States and the British colonies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada were influenced by the literature of Britain and are often classed as a part of Victorian literature, although they were gradually developing their own distinctive voices. Victorian writers of Canadian literature include Grant Allen, Susanna Moodie and Catherine Parr Traill. Australian literature has the poets Adam Lindsay Gordon and Banjo Paterson, who wrote Waltzing Matilda, and New Zealand literature includes Thomas Bracken and Frederick Edward Maning. From the sphere of literature of the United States during this time are some of the country's greats including: Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Henry James, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.

The problem with the classification of "Victorian literature" is the great difference between the early works of the period and the later works which had more in common with the writers of the Edwardian period and many writers straddle this divide. People such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker, H. Rider Haggard, Jerome K. Jerome and Joseph Conrad all wrote some of their important works during Victoria's reign but the sensibility of their writing is frequently regarded as Edwardian.
 

Major writers of the Victorian period

 
 
Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)
Anne Brontλ (1820–1849)
Charlotte Brontλ (1816–1855)
Emily Brontλ (1818–1848)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
Robert Browning (1812–1889)
Samuel Butler (1835–1902)
Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881)
Lewis Carroll (1832–1898)
Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–1861)
Wilkie Collins (1824–89)
Charles Dickens (1812–1870)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)
George Eliot (1819–1880)
Elizabeth Gaskell (1810–1865)
George Gissing (1857–1903)
Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889)
A. E. Housman (1859–1936)
William Henry Giles Kingston (1814–1880)
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)
  Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802–1838)
Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–59)
George Moore (1852–1933)
William Morris (1834–96)
George Meredith (1828–1909)
John Stuart Mill (1806–73)
Walter Pater (1839–94)
Coventry Patmore (1823–96)
Christina Rossetti (1830–1894)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)
John Ruskin (1819–1900)
George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)
Bram Stoker (1847–1912)
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)
Alfred Tennyson (Lord) (1809–1892)
Anthony Trollope (1815–82)
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863)
H.G. Wells (1866–1946)
Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)
 
 
 
see also:
 
 

The Post-Romantic and Victorian eras


Thomas Carlyle
Algernon Charles Swinburne


Charles Dickens
"Great Expectations"
  CHAPTER I, CHAPTER II-XII, CHAPTER XIII-XXXII, CHAPTER XXXIII-LIX
Illustrations by John McLenan

William Makepeace Thackeray
Elizabeth Gaskell
Frances Trollope
Benjamin Disraeli
Charles Kingsley

Anne Bronte

Charlotte Bronte 
"Jane Eyre"    CHAPTER I-XXIV, CHAPTER XXV-XXXVIII
Illustrations by F. H. Townsend

Emily Bronte

Alfred Tennyson "Idylls of the King"  PART I, PART II  
"Lady of Shalott", "Sir Galahad"

Arthur Hallam

Robert Browning  "Dramatic Romances"

Robert Browning "The Pied Piper of Hamelin"

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
"Sonnets from the Portuguese"

Matthew Arnold
Arthur Hugh Clough

John Ruskin  "The King of the Golden River" 
Illustrations by Maria L. Kirk

John Henry Newman
Bernard Bosanquet

F. H. Bradley
T. H. Green
Herbert Spencer
Alfred North Whitehead

   
 

 

Late Victorian literature


Charles Darwin
Walter Pater

George Eliot  "Silas Marner"

Anthony Trollope  "Barchester Towers"

George Meredith  "The Egoist"

Wilkie Collins  "The Moonstone"   PART I, PART II "The Woman in White", PART I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VI Illustrations by John McLenan

Robert Louis Stevenson  "Treasure Island
"

William Morris

Oscar Wilde  I. "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", "The Paradox" 
II.
"The Picture of Dorian Gray"
  III. "Salome" Illustrations by Beardsley

George Moore

George Gissing

Thomas Hardy  "Tess of the d'Urbervilles"    PART I, PART II

J. M. Barrie  "Peter Pan" 
"Peter and Wendy"
  CHAPTER 1-5, CHAPTER 6-17  Illustrations by F. D. Bedford
"Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens"   CHAPTER I, CHAPTER II-IV, CHAPTER V-VI  
Illustrations by Arthur Rackham


George MacDonald  "The Princess and the Goblin"  
PART I, PART II, PART III

Bram Stoker  "Dracula"   CHAPTER 1-10, CHAPTER 11-27

H.G. Wells  "The War of the Worlds"   PART I, PART II   
"The Invisible Man"
 
"A Short History of the World"  PART I, II, III, IV, V

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  "SHERLOCK HOLMES"
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes"    PART I,  PART II "Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"     PART I,  PART II
"The Return of Sherlock Holmes"   
PART I,  PART II
"The Hound of the Baskervilles"     PART I,  PART II
Illustrations by Sidney Paget
"A Study in Scarlet", "The Valley of Fear", "His Last Bow", "The Sign of Four"

Dante Gabriel Rossetti  "The House of Life"

Christina Rossetti
Gerard Manley Hopkins
John Davidson
Arthur Symons
Francis Thompson
Ernest Dowson
Lionel Johnson

A.E. Housman
  "A Shropshire Lad", "Last Poems"

Rudyard Kipling  PART I "Poems"  PART II "Kim"  PART III "The Jungle Book"

Dion Boucicault
T.W. Robertson
Arthur Wing Pinero
Douglas Jerrold
Edward Lear

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll - photographer   PART 2
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"   PART 3, PART 4, PART 5   Illustrations by John Tenniel
"
Through the Looking-Glass"   PART 6PART 7, PART 8   Illustrations by John Tenniel
Illustrations by Arthur Rackham  PART 9
Walt Disney’s "Alice in Wonderland"
  PART10,   PART 11

Jerome K. Jerome 
"Three Men in a Boat"

George Grossmith

 
 
 
 
Victorian architecture
 
 

St. Pancras railway station and Midland Hotel in London, opened in 1868, is an example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture with Ruskinian influences. The station eclectically combined elements of Gothic architecture and other styles with materials and scale made possible by the Industrial Revolution.
 
 
Victorian architecture is a series of architectural revival styles in the mid-to-late 19th century. Victorian refers to the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), called the Victorian era, during which period the styles known as Victorian were used in construction. However, many elements of what is typically termed "Victorian" architecture did not become popular until later in Victoria's reign. The styles often included interpretations and eclectic revivals of historic styles mixed with the introduction of middle east and Asian influences. The name represents the British and French custom of naming architectural styles for a reigning monarch. Within this naming and classification scheme, it follows Georgian architecture and later Regency architecture, and was succeeded by Edwardian architecture.




Central Hall of the Natural History Museum, London. Note the cast-iron arches supporting the roof.


Victorian architecture in the United Kingdom
During the early 19th century, the romantic medieval Gothic revival style was developed as a reaction to the symmetry of Palladianism, and such buildings as Fonthill Abbey were built. By the middle of the 19th century, as a result of new technology, construction was able to incorporate steel as a building component; one of the greatest exponents of this was Joseph Paxton, architect of the Crystal Palace. Paxton also continued to build such houses as Mentmore Towers, in the still popular English Renaissance styles. In this era of prosperity new methods of construction were developed, but ironically the architectural styles, as developed by such architects as Augustus Pugin, were typically retrospective.

In Scotland, the architect Alexander Thomson who practiced in Glasgow was a pioneer of the use of cast iron and steel for commercial buildings, blending neo-classical conventionality with Egyptian and oriental themes to produce many truly original structures. Other notable Scottish architects of this period are Archibald Simpson and Alexander Marshall Mackenzie whose stylistically varied work can be seen in the architecture of Aberdeen.


Jacobethan (1830–70 the precursor to the Queen Anne style)
Renaissance Revival (1840–90)
Neo-Grec (1845–65)
Romanesque Revival
Second Empire (1855–80; originated in France)
Queen Anne Revival (1870–1910)
Scots Baronial (predominantly Scotland)
British Arts and Crafts movement (1880–1910)


Other styles popularised during the period

While not uniquely Victorian, and part of revivals that began before the era, these styles are strongly associated with the 19th century due to the large number of examples that were erected during that period. Victorian architecture usually has many intricate window frames inspired by the famous architect Elliot Rae.

Gothic Revival
Italianate
Neoclassicism
 


Palace of Westminster, Neo-Gothic completed in 1870. Designed by Sir Charles Barry and August Pugin


Royal Albert Hall, London


The "Red Brick" Victoria Building at the University of Liverpool,
completed in 1893 in Gothic Revival style.
Designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse


The Victorian Pavilion at The Oval cricket ground in London


Victorian School of Art and Science at Stroud, Gloucestershire




Balmoral Castle, completely rebuilt for Queen Victoria, an example of the Scots Baronial style



Walsall Victorian Arcade, UK



Victorian gazebo




International spread of Victorian styles

The China Merchants Bank Building is an example of Victorian architecture found in Shanghai, China
During the 18th century, a few English architects emigrated to the colonies, but as the British Empire became firmly established during the 19th century many architects emigrated at the start of their careers. Some chose the United States, and others went to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Normally, they applied architectural styles that were fashionable when they left England. By the latter half of the century, however, improving transport and communications meant that even remote parts of the Empire had access to publications such as the magazine The Builder, which helped colonial architects keep informed about current fashion. Thus, the influence of English architecture spread across the world. Several prominent architects produced English-derived designs around the world, including William Butterfield (St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide) and Jacob Wrey Mould (Chief Architect of Public Works in New York City).

North America

The Painted Ladies are an example of Victorian architecture found in San Francisco, California
In the United States, 'Victorian' architecture generally describes styles that were most popular between 1860 and 1900. A list of these styles most commonly includes Second Empire (1855–85), Stick-Eastlake (1860–ca. 1890), Folk Victorian (1870-1910), Queen Anne (1880–1910), Richardsonian Romanesque (1880–1900), and Shingle (1880–1900). As in the United Kingdom, examples of Gothic Revival and Italianate continued to be constructed during this period, and are therefore sometimes called Victorian. Some historians classify the later years of Gothic Revival as a distinctive Victorian style named High Victorian Gothic. Stick-Eastlake, a manner of geometric, machine-cut decorating derived from Stick and Queen Anne, is also sometimes considered a distinct style. On the other hand, terms such as "Painted Ladies" or "gingerbread" may be used to describe certain Victorian buildings, but do not constitute a specific style. The names of architectural styles (as well as their adaptations) varied between countries. Many homes combined the elements of several different styles and are not easily distinguishable as one particular style or another.

In the United States of America, notable cities which developed or were rebuilt largely during this era include Alameda, Astoria, Albany, Troy, Boston, the Brooklyn Heights and Victorian Flatbush sections of New York City, Buffalo, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Eureka, Galena, Galveston, Grand Rapids, Baltimore, Jersey City/Hoboken, Cape May, Louisville, Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Saint Paul, and Angelino Heights in Los Angeles. San Francisco is well known for its extensive Victorian architecture, particularly in the Haight-Ashbury, Lower Haight, Alamo Square, Noe Valley, Castro, Nob Hill, and Pacific Heights neighborhoods.

The extent to which any one is the "largest surviving example" is debated, with numerous qualifications. The Distillery District in Toronto, Ontario contains the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America. Cabbagetown is the largest and most continuous Victorian residential area in North America. Other Toronto Victorian neighbourhoods include The Annex, Parkdale, and Rosedale. In the USA, the South End of Boston is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest and largest Victorian neighborhood in the country. Old Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky also claims to be the nation's largest Victorian neighborhood. Richmond, Virginia is home to several large Victorian neighborhoods, the most prominent being The Fan. The Fan district is best known locally as Richmond's largest and most 'European' of Richmond's neighborhoods and nationally as the largest contiguous Victorian neighborhood in the United States. The Old West End neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio is recognized as the largest collection of late Victorian and Edwardian homes in the United States, east of the Mississippi. Summit Avenue in Saint Paul, Minnesota has the longest line of Victorian homes in the country.

The photo album L'Architecture Americaine by Albert Levy published in 1886 is perhaps the first recognition in Europe of the new forces emerging in North American architecture.


Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, by Frank Furness




The Carson Mansion in Eureka, California, widely considered one of the highest executions of American Queen Anne Style, built 1884-86



Australia

Modern skyscrapers on Collins Street, Melbourne have been deliberately set back from the street in order to retain Victorian era buildings.
In Australia, the Victorian period is generally recognised as being from 1840 to 1890 and flourished in Australia, which saw a gold rush and population boom during the 1880s in the state of Victoria. There were fifteen styles that predominated:

Victorian Georgian
Victorian Regency
Egyptian
Academic Classical
Free Classical
Filigree
Mannerist
Second Empire
Italianate
Romanesque
Tudor
Academic Gothic
Free Gothic
Rustic Gothic
Carpenter Gothic
The Arts and Crafts style and Queen Anne style are considered to be part of the Federation Period, from 1890 to 1915.


Town Hall, Sydney from The Powerhouse Museum Collection (Second Empire)

 
 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
 
 

 
 
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