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File:Crown Princess Victoria 002.jpg

Everything was prim and proper, even when looking grand.

Ah, Victorian Britain. A place of tumultuous social, cultural, and technological change that is unfairly remembered today as the embodiment of stale and frumpy traditionalism. Victorian Britain is significant for being the birthplace of the modern middle class, for the rapid and jarring transformation to a highly industrialized nation, the massive expansion of The British Empire, some truly fantastic fashions, and, yes, an anxious over-emphasis on morality and propriety... that only barely masked a dark and seedy underbelly of society.

Victorian Britain produced some of the finest literature of the English language canon, and also some of the most famous turgid and overwrought prose in history.

Frequently, but by no means always, overlaps with Victorian London.

Industrial Revolution

The Victorian Era overlaps greatly with the period historians call the Industrial Revolution, and this was greatly influential to society and culture of the day. The Industrial Revolution was a period starting the previous century, greatly advancing progress in machinery, especially related to manufacture of goods, and mining of coal - which of course, was self-perpetuating, the greater mining of coal creating further ability to improve and increase use of steam engines. Other advantages, such as easy transportation about the island, and the increasing use of trains, led to the industrial revolution completely changing the economy of Britain, and then eventually continental Europe and the United States.

However, this also was responsible for the switch between the "cottage industries" and the factory economies. Instead of jobs being mostly based in at-home businesses, production began to occur more and more in factories, leading to most people moving to cities and working for very little in dangerous and long positions.

On the other hand, it was the beginning of class mobility in some ways; the Victorian Era was the first time that there was a real middle class, rather than the feudal division of common and aristocracy.


If you know anything about the Victorian Era, you are probably thinking of those dresses and top hats. Fashion was constantly changing, from this in the 1840s, to this in the 1880s, as it does these days, and was very important to the new middle class. Where the aristocracy didn't have to worry, and the working class didn't have time to worry, the middle class was very interested in looking wealthy and fashionable. The improvements in the textile industry allowed for fabrics to be experimented with more, and eventually industrial chemistry led to the invention of new dyes. If you think of the Victorian Era as black or white, or sepia toned, blame cameras - bright colors were usually fashionable, and often times in impressive patterns, too (like paisley!) Also, make-up on those days, and raised hemlines, were considered taboo and inappropriate.

Famous authors and works of fiction from Victorian Britain include:

Tropes commonly associated with Victorian fiction include: