Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Modern Era

1789 - 1914

In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.



Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.



Great Britain



England's economic development was almost half a century ahead of the Continent's due to its early industrialization, but the working conditions were devastating and led to impoverishment of the workers. This made worker protection laws necessary, along with the gradual extension of suffrage to ever-widening sections of the population, to alleviate the social tensions. Under Queen Victoria, whose reign began in 1837, the economy flourished at first, but social problems remained and the worker movement demanded further reforms. The British colonial empire was gradually restructured in the 19th century to become the Commonwealth of Nations.


Victorian era




Part I

Victorian era
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Victorian novelists, poets and philosophers
Victorian architecture, painters, book illustrations, photography

Part II

Fashions of the Victorian era
Victorian fashion in England Art

Part III

Victorian fashion in French Art
Victorian fashion in Italy

Part IV

Victorian fashion in German
Victorian fashion in United States
Victorian Design
Victorian Postcards



see also:
Official Art (Academic Art)

Art, Technology and Industry
Furnishings and Fashions
Graphic Design a new History
Art Nouveau I: A New Style for a New Culture


Victorian era

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Victorian era of the United Kingdom was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from June 1837 to January 1901. This is the longest reign in British history, and is foreseeably likely to be exceeded only if the present monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) remains on the throne to 2017. The reign was a long period of prosperity for the British people, as profits gained from the overseas British Empire, as well as from industrial improvements at home, allowed a large, educated middle class to develop. Some scholars would extend the beginning of the period—as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political games that have come to be associated with the Victorians—back five years to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.

The era was preceded by the Georgian period and succeeded by the Edwardian period. The latter half of the Victorian era roughly coincided with the first portion of the Belle Époque era of continental Europe.

The era is often characterized as a long period of peace, known as the Pax Britannica, and economic, colonial, and industrial consolidation, temporarily disrupted by the Crimean War, although Britain was at war every year during this time. Towards the end of the century, the policies of New Imperialism led to increasing colonial conflicts and eventually the Anglo-Zanzibar War and the Boer War. Domestically, the agenda was increasingly liberal with a number of shifts in the direction of gradual political reform and the widening of the voting franchise.

The population of England had almost doubled from 16.8 million in 1851 to 30.5 million in 1901. Ireland’s population decreased rapidly, from 8.2 million in 1841 to less than 4.5 million in 1901. At the same time around 15 million emigrants left the United Kingdom in the Victorian era and settled mostly in the United States, Canada and Australia.

During the early part of the era, the House of Commons was headed by the two parties, the Whigs and the Tories. From the late 1850s onwards, the Whigs became the Liberals; the Tories became the Conservatives. These parties were led by many prominent statesmen including Lord Melbourne, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Derby, Lord Palmerston, William 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. Indeed these issues would eventually lead to the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent domino effect that would play a large part in the fall of the empire.

Gothic Revival architecture became increasingly significant in 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, 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' A Tale of Two Cities. Gothic was also supported by the 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, and showcased the greatest innovations of the century. At its centre was the Crystal Palace, an enormous, 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, which was 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.

Popular forms of entertainment varied by social class. Victorian Britain, like the periods before it, was interested in theatre and the arts, and music, drama, and opera were widely attended. There were, however, other forms of entertainment. 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.

Another form of entertainment involved 'spectacles' where paranormal events, such as hypnotism, 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.

Technology and engineering
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.

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.

Photography was realized in 1829 by Louis Daguerre in France and William Fox Talbot in the UK. By 1900, hand-held cameras were available.

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.

Health and medicine
Medicine progressed during Queen Victoria's reign. Anaesthetics were being used so surgery became painless. Chloroform was discovered in July, 1831 by the American physician Samuel Guthrie but faced strong criticism. However Queen Victoria is credited for stifling criticism of the anaesthetic as she used it during child birth.

19th century Britain saw a huge population increase accompanied by rapid urbanization stimulated by the Industrial Revolution. The large numbers of skilled and unskilled people looking for work kept wages down to 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." (The Victorian Underworld)

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, or shoe blacks, or selling 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 three were put to work. In coal mines children began work at the age of five 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.



Victorian morality

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Queen Victoria
Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of IndiaVictorian morality is a distillation of the moral views of people living at the time of Queen Victoria (reigned 1837 - 1901) in particular, and to the moral climate of Great Britain throughout the 19th century in general that were in stark contrast to the morality of the previous Georgian period. It is not tied to this historical period and can describe any set of values that espouses sexual restraint, low tolerance of crime, and a strong social ethic. Due to the prominence of the British Empire, many of these values were spread across the world.

Historians now regard the Victorian era as a time of many contradictions. A plethora of social movements concerned with morals co-existed with a class system that permitted harsh living conditions for many. The apparent contradiction between the widespread cultivation of an outward appearance of dignity and restraint and the prevalence of social phenomena that included prostitution and child labour were two sides of the same coin: various social reform movements and high principles arose from attempts to improve the harsh conditions.

Historical backgroundThe term Victorian has acquired a range of connotations, including that of a particularly strict set of moral standards, which are often applied hypocritically. This stems from the image of Queen Victoria—and her husband, Prince Albert, perhaps even more so—as innocents, unaware of the private habits of many of her respectable subjects; this particularly relates to their sex lives. This image is mistaken: Victoria’s attitude toward sexual morality was a consequence of her knowledge of the corrosive effect of the loose morals of the aristocracy in earlier reigns upon the public’s respect for the nobility and the Crown. The Prince Consort as a young child had experienced the pain of his parents' divorce after they were involved in public sexual scandals. Young Prince Albert's mother had left his family home and she died shortly thereafter.

Two hundred years earlier, the Puritan movement, which led to the installment of Oliver Cromwell, had temporarily overthrown the British monarchy. During England’s years under Cromwell, the law imposed a strict moral code on the people (such as abolishing Christmas as too indulgent of the sensual pleasures).

When the monarchy was restored, a period of loose living and debauchery appeared to be a reaction to the earlier repression. (See: Charles II of England) The two social forces of Puritanism and libertinism continued to motivate the collective psyche of Great Britain from the restoration onward. This was particularly significant in the public perceptions of the later Hanoverian monarchs who immediately preceded Queen Victoria. For instance, her uncle George IV was commonly perceived as a pleasure-seeking playboy, whose conduct in office was the cause of much scandal.

Victorian prudery sometimes went so far as to deem it improper to say "leg" in mixed company; instead, the preferred euphemism “limb” was used. Those going for a swim in the sea at the beach would use a bathing machine. However, historians Peter Gay and Michael Mason both point out that we often confuse Victorian etiquette for a lack of knowledge. For example, despite the use of the bathing machine, it was also possible to see people bathing nude. Another example of the gap between our preconceptions of Victorian sexuality and the facts is that contrary to what we might expect, Queen Victoria liked to draw and collect male nude figure drawings and even gave her husband one as a present.

Verbal or written communication of emotion or sexual feelings was also often proscribed so people instead used the language of flowers. However they also wrote explicit erotica, perhaps the most famous being the racy tell-all My Secret Life by the pseudonym Walter (allegedly Henry Spencer Ashbee), and the magazine The Pearl, which was published for several years and reprinted as a paperback book in the 1960s. Victorian erotica also survives in private letters archived in museums and even in a study of women's orgasms. Some current historians now believe that the myth of Victorian repression can be traced back to early twentieth-century views, such as those of Lytton Strachey, a member of the Bloomsbury Group, who wrote Eminent Victorians.

Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, only four years after the Abolition of slavery in the British Empire. The anti-slavery movement had campaigned for years to achieve the ban, succeeding with a partial abolition in 1807 and the full ban on slave trade, but not slave ownership, in 1833. It took so long because the anti-slavery morality was pitted against a powerful capitalist element in the empire, which claimed their businesses would be destroyed if they were not permitted to exploit slave labour. Eventually, plantation owners in the Caribbean received £20 million in compensation.

In Victoria's time, the Royal Navy patrolled the Atlantic Ocean, stopping any ships that it suspected of trading African slaves to the Americas and freeing any slaves found. The British had set up a Crown Colony in West Africa—Sierra Leone—and transported freed slaves there. Freed slaves from Nova Scotia founded and named the capital of Sierra Leone "Freetown". Many people living at that time argued that the living conditions of workers in English factories seemed worse than those endured by some slaves.

Throughout the whole Victorian Era, homosexuals were regarded as abominations and homosexuality was illegal. Homosexual acts were a capital offence until 1861. However, many famous men from the British Isles, such as Oscar Wilde, were notorious homosexuals. Toward the end of the century, many large trials were held on the subject.

In the same way, throughout the Victorian Era, movements for justice, freedom, and other strong moral values opposed greed, exploitation, and cynicism. The writings of Charles Dickens, in particular, observed and recorded these conditions. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels carried out much of their analysis of capitalism in and as a reaction to Victorian Britain.


Women in the Victorian era

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The status of women in the Victorian era is often seen as an illustration of the striking discrepancy between England's national power and wealth and what many, then and now, consider its appalling social conditions. Women were seen as pure and clean. Because of this view, their bodies were seen as temples which should not be adorned with jewellery nor used for physical exertion or pleasurable sex. The role of women was to have children and tend to the house, in contrast to men, according to the concept of Victorian masculinity.

Mistresses of households
The first mention of a woman being described as the mistress of a household was in 1861 by Isabella Beeton in her manual Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management. Here she explained that the mistress of a household is comparable to the Commander of an Army or the leader of an enterprise. To run a respectable household and secure the happiness, comfort and well-being of her family she must perform her duties intelligently and thoroughly. For example, she has to organize, delegate and instruct her servants which is not an easy task as many of them are not reliable. Another duty described by Beeton is that of being the "sick-nurse" who takes care of ill family members. This requires a good temper, compassion for suffering and sympathy with sufferers, neat-handedness, quiet manners, love of order and cleanliness; all qualities a woman worthy of the name should possess in the 19th century. A very special connection existed between women and their brothers. Sisters had to treat their brothers as they would treat their future husbands. They were dependent on their male family members as the brother's affection might secure their future in case their husband treated them badly or they did not get married at all. Furthermore, while it was very easy to lose one's reputation, it was difficult to establish a reputation. For example, it was not uncommon for whole families to be stigmatised as a result of the misdeeds of one individual member of that family.

Large numbers of working class women worked in factories, or in the garment industry or in laundries or at various other jobs. From the mid-1850s nursing became a respectable occupation for women. Large numbers of women worked as nurses in the American Civil War, and in England nursing schools were started to give women a proper training. Women were increasingly employed in offices in the later part of the century, the invention of the typewriter led to an increase in office jobs for women, as they were found to make better typists than men. When the telephone was invented they were employed as telephone switchboard operators. Large numbers worked as sales clerks in the new department stores. Some women broke into professions like medicine, law, and journalism. The enterprising American journalist Nellie Bly, for instance, was famous for 'stunt' journalism, and became the first person to actually try and go around the world in 80 days, inviting comparisons to Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg in the book 'Around the World in 80 Days'.

In the early part of the Victorian age, girls of the upper and middle class were educated mainly in 'fashionable' subjects like French, drawing, painting, singing, dancing and playing the piano. However, in the later part of the century, giving girls a proper education became more important, and schools like Cheltenham Ladies' College and Rodean were established, offering girls an education broadly modelled on that of boys of the same class, with an emphasis on academic subjects and outdoor games. The expansion of the educational system for poor children meant that both boys and girls of the working class were guaranteed a basic education, though many left school early to work. From the 1870s, women's colleges were started in places like Oxford and Cambridge, which offered female students an education on a par with that of men, though it wasn't until the 20th century that they gained full acceptance by the universities. In America, women made up a third of the student population by 1880.

Reforming divorce laws
A number of changes were made to the legal status of women in the 19th century, especially concerning marriage laws. The fact that fathers always received custody of their children, leaving the mother completely without any rights, slowly started to change. The Custody of Infants Act in 1839 gave mothers of unblemished character access to their children in the event of separation or divorce, and the Matrimonial Causes Act in 1857 gave women limited access to divorce. But while the husband only had to prove his wife's adultery, a woman had to prove her husband had not only committed adultery but also incest, bigamy, cruelty or desertion. In 1873 the Custody of Infants Act extended access to children to all women in the event of separation or divorce. In 1878, after an amendment to the Matrimonial Causes Act, women could secure a separation on the grounds of cruelty and claim custody of their children. Magistrates even authorized protection orders to wives whose husbands have been convicted of aggravated assault. An important change was caused by an amendment to the Married Women's Property Act in 1884 that made a woman no longer a 'chattel' but an independent and separate person. Through the Guardianship of Infants Act in 1886, women could be made the sole guardian of their children if their husband died.

Second-class citizens
Despite the fact that Britain's head of state was a woman, women could not vote. For much of the Victorian era, however, most men were also unable to vote. The franchise was extended to include most men in towns and some men living in rural areas in 1867, which doubled the electorate. However, agricultural labourers were not given the vote until 1884. Many women did not consider the vote to be of much importance anyway, and some women were opposed to the idea of women getting involved in politics. They believed women would be better occupied concentrating on improving the lives of other women and children though working to improve healthcare, education, and social services.

Reform of prostitution laws
The situation of prostitutes—and as was later demonstrated women in general—was actually worsened through the 'First Contagious Diseases Prevention Act' in 1864. In towns with a large military population, women suspected of being prostitutes had to subject themselves to an involuntary periodic genital examination. If they were diagnosed with an illness they were confined to hospitals until they were cured. This law applied to women only since military doctors believed that these examinations were shameful and would destroy a man's self-respect. Since the decision about who was a prostitute was left to the judgment of police officers, a great deal of women were examined who were not actually prostitutes. After two extensions of the law in 1866 and 1869, the acts were finally repealed in 1886.

Beginning in the late 1840s, major news organizations, clergymen and single women became increasingly concerned about prostitution, which came to be known as "The Great Social Evil." Although estimates of the number of prostitutes in London by 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), it is enough to say that the number of women working the streets became increasingly difficult to ignore. 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" (an umbrella term used to describe any women who had sexual intercourse out of wedlock) became a staple feature of mid-Victorian literature and politics. In the writings of Henry Mayhew, Charles Booth and others, prostitution began to be seen as a social problem.

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, 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 was 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, in the East End of London, by the 1880s.



The Victorian Era (1837 - 1901)

1832 - Passage of the first Reform Act.
1837 - Accession of Queen Victoria to the throne.
1840 - New Zealand becomes a British colony, through the Treaty of Waitangi.
1842 - Massacre of Elphinstone's Army by the Afghans in Afghanistan results in the death or
incarceration of 16,500 soldiers and civilians.
The Mines Act of 1842 banned women/children from working in coal, iron, lead and tin mining.
The Illustrated London News was first published.
1845 - The Irish famine begins. Within 5 years it would become the UK's worst human disaster, with starvation and emigration reducing the population of Ireland itself by over 50%. The famine permanently changed Ireland’s demographics and became a rallying point for nationalist sentiment that pervaded British politics for much of the following century.
1846 - Repeal of the Corn Laws.
1848 - Death of around 2,000 people a week in a cholera epidemic.
1850 - Restoration of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Britain.
1851 - The Great Exhibition (the first World's Fair) was held at the Crystal Palace, with great
success and international attention.
The Victorian gold rush. In ten years the Australian population nearly tripled.
1854 - Crimean War: The United Kingdom declared war on Russia.
1857 - The Indian Mutiny, a widespread revolt in India against the rule of the British East India Company, was sparked by sepoys (native Indian soldiers) in the Company's army. The rebellion, involving not just sepoys but many sectors of the Indian population as well, was largely quashed within a year. In response to the mutiny, the East India Company was abolished in August 1858 and India came under the direct rule of the British crown, beginning the period of the British Raj.
1858 - The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, responded to the Orsini plot against French emperor Napoleon III, the bombs for which were purchased in Birmingham, by attempting to make such acts a felony, but the resulting uproar forced him to resign.
1859 - Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which led to various reactions.
1861 - Death of Prince Albert; Queen Victoria refused to go out in public for many years, and
when she did she wore a widow's bonnet instead of the crown.
1866 - An angry crowd in London, protesting against John Russell's resignation as Prime Minister, was barred from Hyde Park by the police; they tore down iron railings and trampled on flower beds. Disturbances like this convinced Derby and Disraeli of the need for further parliamentary reform.
1867 - The Constitution Act, 1867 passes and British North America becomes Dominion of Canada.
1875 - Britain purchased Egypt's shares in the Suez Canal as the African nation was forced
to raise money to pay off its debts.
1878 - Treaty of Berlin (1878). Cyprus becomes a Crown colony.
1882 - British troops began the occupation of Egypt by taking the Suez Canal, in order to secure
the vital trade route and passage to India, and the country became a protectorate.
1884 - The Fabian Society was founded in London by a group of middle class intellectuals,
including Quaker Edward R. Pease, Havelock Ellis, and E. Nesbit, to promote socialism.
1888 - The serial killer known as Jack the Ripper murdered and mutilated five (and possibly
more) prostitutes on the streets of London.
1870 - 1891 - Under the Elementary Education Act 1870, basic State Education became free
for every child under the age of 10.
1901 - The death of the much-loved Victoria saw the end of this era, and the ascension of her
eldest son, Edward, began the Edwardian era, another time of great change.


Victorian novelists and poets

is the literature produced during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) and corresponds to the Victorian era. It forms a link and transition between the writers of the romantic period and the very different literature of the 20th century.

The 19th century saw the novel become the leading form of literature in English. The works by pre-Victorian writers such as JANE AUSTEN  and WALTER SCOTT  had perfected both closely-observed social satire and adventure stories. Popular works opened a market for the novel amongst a reading public. The 19th century is often regarded as a high point in British literature as well as in other countries such as France, the United States and Russia. Books, and novels in particular, became ubiquitous, and the "Victorian novelist" created legacy works with continuing appeal.

Significant Victorian novelists and poets include:

Christina Rossetti,
BROWNING  ELIZABETH BARRETT "Sonnets from the Portuguese" ,
Edward Bulwer-Lytton,
CARROLL  LEWIS "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland",
Benjamin Disraeli,
George Meredith,
Elizabeth Gaskell,
George Gissing,
A. E. Housman,
STOKER  BRAM "Dracula",
Algernon Charles Swinburne,
Philip Meadows Taylor,
TENNYSON ALFRED "Idylls of the King" ,
George MacDonald,
G.M. Hopkins,
WILDE OSCAR "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", "The Paradox of Oscar Wilde"



Victorian Philosophers




Victorian Architecture


Manchester Town Hall is an example of Victorian Gothic Revival found in Manchester, UK.
Museum of Natural History in London, UK.



Victorian Painters and Book Illustrations

see also:


Official Art (Academic Art)




William Holman Hunt

The Triumph of the Innocents



Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante's Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice



John Everett Millais

Hearts are Trumps



Ford Madox Brown


The Pretty Baa-Lambs



Edward Coley Burne-Jones

The Wedding of Psyche



Arthur Hughes


Portrait of Mrs. Louisa Jenner



John William Waterhouse

The Enchanted Garden



Thomas Cooper Gotch


The Awakening



Lord Frederic Leighton

Music Lesson



Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

An Earthly Paradise



John William Godward


Girl in Yellow Drapery



Joseph Mallord William Turner

Apollo and Python



Walter Crane

Beauty and the Beast - Beauty is entertained by the Beast



Aubrey Beardsley

How Sir Launcelot Was Known by Dame Elaine


Victorian Photography


Author Unknown


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