Victorian Literature

The term "Victorian Literature" refers to literature produced during the time of Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) (New World Encyclopedia). The period is between the Romantic and Modernist eras and is characterized by the emergence of the novel as the most prevalent literary form, use of realism, and the concern for moral and social decay. Famous novelists of the time include: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy. Notable poets include: Matthew Arnold, Christina Rossetti, Robert Browning, and Alfred Tennyson.

Though the period is a complex one, even the Victorians found themselves generalizing their attributes. Charles Dickens noted the contradictory nature of these generalizations in his novel A Tale of Two Cities:

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens)