History of Victorian Britain

This part of the website provides resources relating to the Victorians.* The period remains one of the most popular areas of British history to study, as many people are fascinated by how a small nation became the ‘workshop of the world’ with the largest global empire ever seen. The Victorians also lived through an era of immense social change, which included the physical landscape of the country being transformed by urbanisation and industrialisation. It was also a notable ‘age of reform’ – such as in politics, education and public health – a time of strong religious convictions, and a period in which many leisure activities took off. Yet it was also an era of stark contrasts, as behind the long shadow cast by the nation’s economic superiority, there was also poverty, squalor and crime.

*: Queen Victoria’s reign stretched from 1837 to 1901, but some scholars have analysed it in distinct sections (e.g. early, mid- and late-Victorian), whilst others have examined it as part of a longer time frame, such as the nineteenth century as a whole – or even the ‘long nineteenth century’ in Europe (1789-1914) – or in conjunction with the Edwardian period (1901-1910).