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Victorian Society and Literature

English Summer Vacation Project


Sairath Das, Class XII, Section R, DPS Ruby Park, Kolkata.

Introduction
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victorias
reign from 20th June 1837 until her death on 22nd January 1901.
It was a long period of peace, prosperity and refined sensibility.

Major Events of the Victorian Era


Some of the major events that took place during the Victorian era and
influenced the literature of that time include:
1. A huge growth in population.
2. The Victorian era slightly overlaps with British Industrial Revolution.
It witnessed big changes to the way people lived, worked and travelled.
3. In addition to the major developments in technology, there were
emerging scientific beliefs like Charles Darwins Theory of Evolution.
4. And finally, there were poor conditions for working class. the
Industrial Revolution led to the distance between the halves and halvenots. Hence, the writers felt obligated to speak out against the societal
injustice.
Defining Victorian Literature in any satisfactory and comprehensive
manner has proven troublesome. One has difficulty determining the end of
the Romantic Movement and the beginning of the Victorian Period in
Literature. Likewise identifying the point where Victorianism gives way to
Modernism is no easy task.

Some Eminent Writers of the Victorian Era


1. CHARLES DICKENS: Arguably the most well known Victorian writers
was Charles Dickens. he wrote a lot of novels about the struggles of the
poor and the battle between right and wrong. Oliver Twist or David
Copperfield have protagonists who are good people that fall into bad
circumstances that they dont deserve. his other works include A
Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectation.
VICTORIAN SOCIETY & LIT - SAIRATH DAS, XII-R

2. WILLIAM THACKERAY: William Thackeray was Dickens great rival.


He is best known for his novel Vanity Fair subtitled - a novel without a
hero, which is an example of a form popular in Victorian literature.
3. THE BRONTE SISTERS: Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte produced
notable works during that period. Some of the popular ones are:
Wuthering Heights (by Emily Bronte), Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte)
and The Tenant of Wild Fell Hall (by Anne Bronte). They exhibited
Gothic romanticism and feminist trend.
Later in this period George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) published The Mill on
the Floss in 1860 and Middle March in 1872.
In the later decades of Victorian era, Thomas Hardy was the most
important novelist. his works include Far From the Madding Crowd,
The Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess of the dUrbervilles.

Great English Poets of the Victorian Age


Robert Browning and Alfred Lord Tennyson were Victorian Englands
most famous poets. Browning most famous poets. Browning is best
remembered for his superb dramatic monologue. The poet laureate Alfred
Lord Tennyson wrote poems which were romantic in subject matter but were
tempered by personal melancholy.

Childrens Literature
The Victorians are credited with inventing childhood. Writers like
Lewis Carroll, Anna Sewell wrote mainly for children. Other authors such as
Anthony Hope and Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote mainly for adults, but
their adventure novels are now classified as Childrens Literature.

Conclusion
In Victorian England, there were efforts to improve the lot of the poor.
The Reform Bills of the 19th Century extended voting rights to men. For all
the social inequalities which still persisted, the Victorians successfully
undermined some of humanitys most time-honoured institutions. Some
writers greeted these changes with fear, others embraced the new world that
was coming into being, thrilled at the progress of science and society.
Together these voices speak of an important era in English literary history.
VICTORIAN SOCIETY & LIT - SAIRATH DAS, XII-R