The Victorian Age
1. The divine right of kings is as old-fashioned as a suit of clothing.
2. The masses of men begin to be educated, begin to think for themselves, and a
host of periodicals appear in answer to their demand for reading matter.
3. Poets, novelists, essayists, historians, all serious writers feel the inspiration of
great audience, and their works have a thousand readers where formerly they
had but one.
4. In a word, English government, society and literature have all become more
democratic. This is the most significant feature of modern history.
1. Man’s desire is to know the truth, if possible the whole truth of life; and it sets
no limits to the exploring spirit, whether in the heavens above or the earth
beneath or the waters under the earth.
2. The Victorians turned their attention to an unexplored world of invisible
forces, and their best literature thrills again with the grandeur of the universe
in which men live.
3. The scattered colonies increased mightily in wealth and power, and were
closely federated into a world-wide Empire of people speaking the same noble
speech, following the same high ideals of justice and liberty.
4. Literature reflects on the imperial spirit of modern English history and
Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote poems that demonstrate the conservatism, optimism and self-
Matthew Arnold, Gerald Manly Hopkins and Dante Gabriel Rossetti are called Pre-Raphaelites
for they sought to bring too their poetry the simplicity and directness notable in medieval
Italian art before the Renaissance painter Raphael came on the scene.
Drama had few developments on the hands of Oscar Wilde who wrote several comic plays that
satirize upper class manners and morals. He wrote “Lady Windermere’s Fan” and “The
Importance of Being Earnest” with delight.
In prose, a highly imaginative and satirical masterpiece of this age was written as a children’s
story. Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) wrote “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” John
Ruskin wrote “Stones of Venice”.
In novel, Realism was one of the greatest innovations, which offered a detailed portrait of life
in 19th c.
George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) wrote “The Mill on the Floss” “Silas Marner” and
Charles Dickens was one of the most popular and productive novelists. His works combined
social criticism with comedy and sentiment to create a tone that the world identifies as
Victorian. Also, he invented a vast group of memorable characters in novels such as “Oliver
Twist” “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations”
William Makepeace Thackeray was a journalist of a humble background and a satirist of the
morality, the hypocrisies, and the manners of the English middle class. He wrote “Vanity Fair”
with his well-created female character Becky Sharp.
Charlotte and Emily Bronte wrote “Jane Eyre” and “wuthering Heights” respectively.
Robert Louis Stevenson created a remarkable series of adventure novels with exotic, historical
settings such as “Treasure Island” “Mister Hyde” “The Case of Doctor Jeky11” and
Rudyard Kipling wrote “Captain Courageous” and “Kim”
Thomas Hardy wrote novels in the lonely form country, they pessimistically explore manners
and social customs to touch on the nature of life itself. They include “Far from the Madding
Crowd” “Return of the Native” and “Judge the Obscure”.
Read about Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s contributions (p.101 – 103)
Read about Robert Browning (p. 104-107)
Read about Matthew Arnold (p.107-108)
Read about Dante Gabriel Rossetti (p.109)
Read about Edward Fitzgerald (p.112)