Victorian and Fin de Siecle Literature

Events

Population quadrupled

Approx. 1801 - Approx. 1911

Popular: Newgate Novels

Approx. 1820 - Approx. 1829

Sensation
Thought to glamorise the lives of the criminals they portrayed, based on Newgate Prison

Publishing revolution

1820 - 1880

Technological and economic:
- cheaper raw materials, repeal of paper tax = books cheaper
- 4x increase in number of books published, average price of books halved - mass literary publishing
- circulating libraries - new institutions
- rise of the bestseller
- rise of prose fiction and popular sub-genres eg. melodrama, sensation fiction, detective fiction, designed to entertain middle classes
- new opportunities for women writers

Establishment of the New Metropolitan Police Force

Approx. 1829

Social changes - penal reform

Catholic Emancipation Act

1829 - Approx. 1829

Social change - religious freedom

Age of Empire

Approx. 1830 - Approx. 1880

Victorian Literature
Social changes - religious freedom, penal reform, sexual freedom
Wealth and inequality - naval and technological supremacy internationally, rise of middle classes
Changes in:
- publishing culture
- readership
- literary values

Popular Poetry - long narrative poems and dramatic monologues

Approx. 1830 - Approx. 1859

eg. Tennyson, Browning, Barrett-Browning

Factory Acts

Approx. 1833

Abolition of Slavery

Approx. 1834 - 1834

Queen Victoria's Reign

Approx. 1837 - Approx. 1901

Opium Wars

Approx. 1839 - Approx. 1842

Hungry 40s

Approx. 1840 - Approx. 1849

Popular: 'Social Problem' Novels

Approx. 1840 - Approx. 1849

Realism
eg. Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell

Irish Famine

Approx. 1845 - Approx. 1847

Popular: Sensation Fiction

Approx. 1850 - Approx. 1859

Sensation
eg. Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Popular: Classic Realism

Approx. 1850 - Approx. 1869

Realism
eg. George Eliot

Victoria categorised as 'Wife' rather than 'Queen in census - Albert categorised as Head of household

Approx. 1851

Divorce Act

Approx. 1857

Social changes - sexual freedom

Indian Mutiny

Approx. 1857 - Approx. 1858

Shaky days for the Empire

Popular: Religious Novels

Approx. 1860 - Approx. 1889

Realism
eg. Mary Ward, Walter Pater

Popular Poetry - faith and doubt

Approx. 1860 - 1889

eg. Rossetti, Hopkins, Arnold

Popular: Detective Fiction

1860 - 1869

Sensation
eg. Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle

Prince Albert's Death

Approx. 1861 - 1861

Married Women's Property Acts

Approx. 1870 - Approx. 1879

Social changes - sexual freedom

First Zulu War

Approx. 1879 - 1879

Irish 'Land Wars'

Approx. 1879 - Approx. 1882

Popular: Naturalism

Approx. 1880 - Approx. 1889

Realism
eg. Thomas Hardy, George Gissing

Commodification of literature

1880 - 1900

Division between mass and elite taste:
- rise of the professional writer
- breakdown in relations between writers and publishers - rise of literary agents and Society of Authors
- increased use of advertising - literary tourism, writer as 'media personality', rise of literary biography
- concerns about readership eg. Henry James
- relative decline in poetry and critical writing

Popular: Colonial Fiction

Approx. 1880 - Approx. 1900

Sensation
eg. Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad

Age of Transition

Approx. 1880 - Approx. 1910

Fin de Siecle Literature
Crisis of Imperialism, new imperialism and 'scramble for Africa'
Domestic crises, economic threat from USA, Germany, Russia and France, 25-30% in persistent poverty (according to Booth and Rowntree), growth of Trade Unionism, Women's Suffrage, Uranianism (homosexuality, particularly gay men with feminine characteristics, "3rd sex"

Rise of Socialism

Approx. 1880 - Approx. 1889

The Socialist League, the Socialist Democratic Federation, the Fabian Society

Annexation of Egypt

Approx. 1882

Establishment of the Society of Authors

Approx. 1884

Queen Victoria titled Empress of India

Approx. 1887

After the 'Indian Mutiny'

London Dock Strikes

1889

Growth of Trade Unionism

Popular Poetry - 'Last Romantics' and Patriotic Verse

Approx. 1890 - Approx. 1900

'Last Romantics' - eg. Dowson
Patriotic verse - eg. Kipling, Newbolt

Popular: Late Victorian Gothic

Approx. 1890 - Approx. 1900

Sensation
eg. Bram Stoker, Richard Marsh