The Victorian Era 1832–1901
Although Queen Victoria did not ascend to the throne until 1837, it is common to refer to the Victorian era as beginning in 1832, the year of both the First Reform Bill and the death of Sir Walter Scott, a major writer of the Romantic era. The main topics for this unit on the Victorians are Industrialism, Religious Doubt, The Role of Women (“The Woman Question”) and Imperialism. This is not to say that these issues were peculiar to that era; indeed, we will see them reappearing in later units; for example, the “Woman Question” in the Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield chapters, Industrialism in Shaw’s play Major Barbara and in Huxley’s Brave New World, and Imperialism and Religious Doubt in the Orwell and Eliot chapters respectively.
As one critic puts it, the following developments characterize the Victorian era:
- A decisive shift of population and political and economic power from the country estates to the cities and the consequent increasing dominance of the middle classes
- Industrialization and the “proletarianization” of the working class
- The laissez-faire school of economics, along with the countervailing current of social reform movements and the emergence of Marxian socialism
- The dramatic expansion of English naval and trade dominance and the extension of the British Empire around the globe
- The exposition of the theory of evolution by Darwin and his defenders and the heightened conflict between science and religion (Adapted from George Scheper A Survey of English Literature. Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting 1973).
- Victorian Technology
- “1832 Reform Act.” Taking Liberties: The Struggle for Britain’s Freedoms and Rights. The British Library.
- “The 1833 Factory Act.” The Victorian Web. Dr. Marjie Bloy, National University of Singapore.
- “Child Labor.” The Victorian Web. David Cody, Hartwick College.
- “The Crystal Palace, or The Great Exhibition of 1851: An Overview.” The Victorian Web.
- “Great Exhibition.” Treasures. The National Archives.
- “The Life of the Industrial Worker in Nineteenth-Century England.” The Victorian Web. Laura Del Col, West Virginia University.
- “Social Darwinism.”
- “The Reform Acts.” The Victorian Web. Glenn Everett, University of Tennessee at Martin.
- “Victorian Science & Religion.” The Victorian Web. Aileen Fyfe, National University of Ireland Galway and John van Wyhe, Cambridge University.
- “Victorian Geology.” The Victorian Web. John van Wyhe, Cambridge University.
- “Dover Beach”, Matthew Arnold. The Victorian Web. [With commentary].
- “The Woman Question”: Overview Norton Online
- “The Nature of Women.”
- “The 1870 Education Act.” Living Heritage: Going to School. www.parliament.uk.
- “Gender Ideology & Separate Spheres.” Gender, Health, Medicine & Sexuality in Victorian England. Victoria & Albert Museum.
- “Gender Matters.” The Victorian Web.
- “The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.” The Victorian Web. Helena Wojtczak.
- “‘The Personal is Political’: Gender in Private & Public Life.” Gender, Health, Medicine & Sexuality in Victorian England. Victoria & Albert Museum.
- “Suffragists.” Learning: Dreamers and Dissenters. The British Library.
- “Victorian Britain: A Divided Nation?” Education. The National Archives.
- “The British Empire.” The Victorian Web. David Cody, Hartwick College.
- “British Empire.” The National Archives.
- “Kipling’s Imperialism.” The Victorian Web. David Cody, Hartwick College.
- Norton Topics: “Victorian Imperialism”.
- “The British Empire”
- “Archaeology and Imperialism.” BBC Radio In Our Time.
A Comprehensive general Victorians Site from Saylor.org English 410 Resources Page.