Victorian Literature

Queen Victoria's reign in the UK, from the late 1830s to 1901, was a time of moral contradictions and head-spinning technological innovation. WIth classic novels written during the Victorian era, as well as contemporary historical fiction looking back on that time, this collection features authors ranging from Charles Dickens and the Brontë sisters to Margaret Atwood.

Publication year 1843Genre Novella, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Society: Class, Life/Time: BirthTags Victorian Period, Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Holidays & Occasions

Originally published in 1843, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol defined and popularized quintessential Christmas tropes while condemning Victorian England’s harsh social division between the rich and poor. The Poor Laws (referenced by Scrooge in Stave 1) were England’s response to pervasive poverty; the workhouses associated with these laws subjected the desperate and destitute to demeaning conditions, and people who could not pay debts were sent to debtors’ prison—a circumstance that Dickens deals with in detail... Read A Christmas Carol Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Natural World: Environment, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Historical Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Romance, Victorian Period

Publication year 1847Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: MarriageTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Romance, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, British Literature, Education

Agnes Grey is the first novel by Anne Brontë (1820-1849), the youngest of the three celebrated Brontë sisters, who all wrote novels now considered classics of English literature. Anne drew on her experience as a clergyman’s daughter and as a governess in telling the story of a young woman looking for her place in the world. Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Acton Bell, Agnes Grey was read as an incisive commentary on the status... Read Agnes Grey Summary

Publication year 1913Genre Poem, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Natural World: Place, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Poetry: Dramatic Poem, Humor, Grief / Death, British Literature, Victorian Period

Publication year 1865Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Fantasy, Victorian Period, Classic Fiction, Action / Adventure, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by British author Lewis Carroll (1832-1838) is a classic work of nonsense literature first published in 1865. Originally intended for children, the novel has become a perennial favorite of adults thanks to Carroll’s sophisticated wordplay and humor. Carroll’s work has influenced or inspired authors as diverse as James Joyce and Neil Gaiman, surrealist painters like Salvador Dalí, and the philosopher Gilles Deleuze. The novel has never been out of print and... Read Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Summary

Publication year 1891Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Relationships: Marriage, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Classic Fiction, Gender / Feminism, Love / Sexuality, Victorian Period

Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman’s "A New England Nun" was first published in 1891's A New England Nun and Other Stories. The collection exhibits the author’s many modes of writing, demonstrating her mastery of the Romantic, Gothic, and psychologically symbolic genres. The stories focus on the native scenery, dialogue, landscape, and values of 19th-century New England. The stories center on themes of women’s integrity and hardships, femininity versus masculinity, and the commerce and culture of the... Read A New England Nun Summary

Publication year 1891Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Society: ClassTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Classic Fiction, Victorian Period

“A Scandal in Bohemia” (1891) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has the distinction of being the first short story to feature literature’s most famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. The Sherlock Holmes stories were originally serialized in The Strand Magazine, and the famous British literary magazine published Doyle’s works from 1891 to 1930. Doyle also featured his iconic amateur detective in four novels and several collections, including A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Sign of Four (1890)... Read A Scandal in Bohemia Summary

Publication year 1859Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: FateTags British Literature, Historical Fiction, Victorian Period, Classic Fiction

A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859, is a historical drama written by Charles Dickens. The backdrop of the novel takes place in London and Paris prior to the French Revolution. The novel, told in three parts, has been adapted into numerous productions for film, theater, radio, and television.In 1775, a banker named Jarvis Lorry travels to Dover, where he meets a young, half-French woman named Lucie Manette. Together, the pair travel to Paris... Read A Tale of Two Cities Summary

Publication year 1913Genre Poem, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & YouthTags Lyric Poem, Science / Nature, Victorian Period

Publication year 1841Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: The PastTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Victorian Period

Publication year 1886Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Philosophy, Victorian Period

Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future is a classic philosophical text composed by one of modernity’s greatest thinkers, Friedrich Nietzsche, and first published in 1886, just a few years after the arguably more infamous Thus Spake Zarathustra. Published first in Nietzsche’s native German, the book was translated into English 20 years later in 1906, making the work even more widely known to an international audience. A more polemical text than... Read Beyond Good And Evil Summary

Publication year 1877Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Natural World: AnimalsTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Action / Adventure, Animals, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Class, History: European, Poverty, Religion / Spirituality, Social Justice, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Urban Development, Victorian Period, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Black Beauty was written by English novelist Anna Sewell, and published in 1877. It quickly became extremely popular, and led to increased activism and public concern for the humane treatment of horses and other animals. It went on to become one of best-selling novels of all time, and has been adapted numerous times into films and theatre productions. Sewell used her novel to explore themes such as kindness and responsibility, and to critique social problems... Read Black Beauty Summary

Publication year 1853Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Relationships: FamilyTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Satire, British Literature

Bleak House is a novel by English Victorian author Charles Dickens, published between 1852-1853. The expansive narrative covers many plots, including the first-person account of the life of Esther Summerson and an ongoing court case concerning a large inheritance thrown into chaos by the existence of contradictory wills. Bleak House has been adapted for the theater, radio, film, and television (most recently in 2005) and is considered among Dickens’ greatest novels. This guide uses an... Read Bleak House Summary

Publication year 1914Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: War, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Lyric Poem, Satire, Military / War, Victorian Period, Christian literature

English poet and novelist Thomas Hardy wrote “Channel Firing” in May of 1914, only three months before the beginning of WWI. Eerily prophetic, the poem depicts the global chaos and destruction that soon followed. Overlaid by tones of satire and irony, the poem details the violence of war and humanity’s age-old proclivity toward it through a conversation between God and the dead. Hardy, although best known for his earlier novels, received positive reception concerning war... Read Channel Firing Summary

Publication year 1853Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Identity: Gender, Life/Time: The FutureTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Victorian Period, Gender / Feminism

Publication year 1869Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Arts / Culture, Class, Victorian Period

Publication year 1878Genre Novella, FictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Society: CommunityTags Classic Fiction, Romance, Victorian Period

Daisy Miller is a novella by Henry James, first published in Cornhill Magazine in 1878 and in book form a year later. This short piece of fiction explores the differences in class and social expectations in America and Europe, especially for young women just before the turn of the 20th century. James was a member of a prominent and wealthy American family; his education and travels to England and continental Europe allowed him to gain... Read Daisy Miller Summary

Publication year 1876Genre Novel, FictionTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Historical Fiction, British Literature, Jewish Literature

Daniel Deronda is the last novel by George Eliot, published in 1876. The novel satirizes Victorian society, and its sympathetic portrayal of Jewish culture and ideas garnered controversy at the time of publication. It has been adapted for stage, television, and film.This guide is written using the 2014 Oxford World’s Classics edition.Content Warning: This guide contains references to a suicide attempt and antisemitism and antisemitic language that feature in the source text.Plot SummaryDaniel Deronda begins... Read Daniel Deronda Summary

Publication year 1850Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period

David Copperfield is Charles Dickens’ eighth novel. The book was originally produced in serial form between 1849 and 1850, and then published in full in 1850. Written from the first-person perspective of its eponymous narrator, the novel recounts his experiences from boyhood to manhood. Because many of these experiences closely mirror the life of Charles Dickens, David Copperfield is widely considered both a bildungsroman and an autobiographical novel. In addition to being Dickens’ favorite among... Read David Copperfield Summary

Publication year 1842Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Economics, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Classic Fiction, Satire, Class, History: European, Politics / Government, Religion / Spirituality, Russian Literature, Victorian Period

Nikolai Gogol called his 1842 work Dead Souls an “epic poem in prose,” though most critics and scholars now refer to it as a novel. Structured in part as an analog to Dante’s Inferno, Dead Souls is an absurdist social satire of imperial Russia before the emancipation of the serfs, especially the foibles and customs of the Russian nobility. Though Gogol is not interested in strict realism, his portraits of nobles who speak French more... Read Dead Souls Summary

Publication year 1867Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: PlaceTags Lyric Poem, Religion / Spirituality, Victorian Period

Publication year 1897Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Identity: SexualityTags Victorian Period, British Literature, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Gothic Literature

Dracula is a gothic novel by Bram Stoker published in 1897. Stoker tells the story of the fight against the vampire Dracula in an epistolary format. The story comprises various letters, telegrams, journal entries, and newspaper articles written by the main characters. Dracula explores the classic theme of good versus evil, but the novel also illuminates the relationships between religion and reason, the East and the West, the modern age versus the old world, and... Read Dracula Summary

Publication year 1815Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Relationships: Marriage, Society: ClassTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Romanticism / Romantic Period, British Literature, Historical Fiction, Romance, Humor, Class, Gender / Feminism, History: European, Relationships

Emma is a fiction novel published in 1815 by the English author Jane Austen. The book centers on the character development of its eponymous protagonist, a genteel young woman on a country estate who meddles in the love lives of friends and neighbors. Jane Austen was conscious that Emma’s snobbery, vanity, and meddling might make her a “heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” (Austen-Leigh, James Edward. A Memoir of Jane Austen. London:... Read Emma Summary

Publication year 1872Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: Colonialism, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Victorian Period, Classic Fiction, Satire, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, British Literature

Erewhon: or, Over the Range is a satirical novel detailing the adventures of an unnamed narrator into the fictional country of Erewhon. The novel was written by Samuel Butler, though it was published anonymously in 1872. Butler was known for his controversial views on religion and science, wavering between support of and condemnation of both the Church of England and the Darwinian scientists. As such, his own views influence the satire of the novel, and... Read Erewhon Summary

Publication year 1874Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Romance, Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, British Literature

Far from the Madding Crowd is Thomas Hardy’s fourth novel, originally published in 1874 as a serial for Cornhill Magazine. Hardy was a Victorian poet and novelist writing in the Realist tradition. The novel is the first to be set in Hardy’s Wessex, a fictitious region of England modeled after his own Dorset and named after the early Saxon kingdom in the same region. Like much of Hardy’s work, the novel explores rural, Victorian-era English... Read Far From The Madding Crowd Summary

Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Identity: SexualityTags Historical Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, LGBTQ, Gothic Literature, Victorian Period, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Love / Sexuality

A thrilling tale of thievery, betrayal, and mistaken identity, Fingersmith, by Welsh author Sarah Waters, tells the story of two women from two very different stations of life whose fates are inextricably linked. Set in the 1860s, Fingersmith is narrated alternately by Sue Smith (also known as Sue Trinder) and Maud Lilly. One is a young “fingersmith”—slang for a thief—lovingly protected from the worst of her world by Mrs. Sucksby; the other is an aristocratic... Read Fingersmith Summary

Publication year 1884Genre Novella, FictionThemes Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Identity: GenderTags Satire, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Philosophy, Class, Gender / Feminism, British Literature, Victorian Period

IntroductionIn his introduction to Flatland: a Romance of Many Dimensions (1884), British mathematician Banesh Hoffmann describes the novel as “a stirring adventure in pure mathematics” and emphasizes the fundamentally fantastical nature of the story (iii). He also says that author Edwin A. Abbott intended the novel to be instructional. Both the surreal nature of Flatland and its didactic elements are plain, but there is disagreement among scholars and readers on the question of exactly what... Read Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Summary

Publication year 1855Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Poetry: Dramatic Poem, Blank verse, Victorian Period

“Fra Lippo Lippi” is a poem by Robert Browning (1812-1889), written in the form of a dramatic monologue. It was first published in the collection, Men and Women (1855) during the Victorian era. This historical poem centers on the 15th-century Carmelite monk, Fra Lippo Lippi, who was a famous Italian painter. Browning relied on an account of the monk’s life in Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1568), but took... Read Fra Lippo Lippi Summary

Publication year 1881Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Regret, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: FemininityTags Play: Drama, Psychological Fiction, Scandinavian Literature, Realism, Victorian Period, Drama / Tragedy, Health / Medicine, Religion / Spirituality, Finance / Money / Wealth, Love / Sexuality

The play Ghosts (1881) by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen chronicles the complicated relationship between Helen Alving and her son, Oswald. Ghosts documents a day in the life at the Alving estate as Helen prepares to open an orphanage in honor of her late husband. A three-act play, Ghosts explores the complex social issues of sexually transmitted infections, incest, and euthanasia—topics that made the play highly controversial when it was first produced. Ghosts followed the success... Read Ghosts Summary

Publication year 1918Genre Poem, FictionThemes Natural World: Environment, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Religion / Spirituality, Victorian Period, Industrial Revolution

Publication year 1861Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Classic Fiction, Industrial Revolution, Victorian Period, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, British Literature

Great Expectations is the 13th novel written by Charles Dickens. It was originally published as a serial in Dickens’s periodical, All the Year Round, Great Expectations, and Chapman and Hall published the novelized version in October of 1861. The novel is widely considered to be a classic example of the bildungsroman, or coming-of-age genre, and it has been adapted into numerous plays, films, and television series.Plot SummaryGreat Expectations tells the story of an orphan named... Read Great Expectations Summary

Publication year 1854Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Society: Economics, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Identity: FemininityTags Victorian Period, Satire, Classic Fiction, British Literature, Class, Gender / Feminism, Poverty

Hard Times is an 1854 novel by Charles Dickens. The 10th book of Dickens’s career, Hard Times is notably shorter than his other works and is one of the few that isn’t set in London. Instead, Hard Times provides a satirical examination of the fictitious industrial city of Coketown, England. The novel has been adapted numerous times for radio, television, theater, and film.This guide is written using an eBook edition of the 2003 Penguin Classics... Read Hard Times Summary

Publication year 1899Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: ColonialismTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, British Literature, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Heart of Darkness is an 1899 novel by Joseph Conrad detailing the story of Marlow, the captain of a steamboat, who travels up the Congo River to find a man named Kurtz. This guide uses the 2003 Barnes & Noble Classic edition.Plot SummaryThe novel is structured as a story Marlow tells his friends onboard a boat on the Thames. As the sun sets, Marlow becomes introspective and begins to reminisce about the time when, struggling... Read Heart of Darkness Summary

Publication year 1850Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Love / Sexuality, Religion / Spirituality, Victorian Period

Publication year 1850Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Lyric Poem, Grief / Death, Victorian Period

Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam AHH explores the cosmic implications of the death of a college friend (his sister’s fiancé), poet Arthur Henry Hallam, who died quite unexpectedly in 1833 at the age of 22 most likely from a cerebral hemorrhage. The poem is among the most ambitiously conceived philosophical poems in the English language and a monument to the dynamics of how Christians themselves grapple with the thorny question of mortality. The work stands... Read In Memoriam Summary

Publication year 1847Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: GenderTags Gothic Literature, Classic Fiction, Romanticism / Romantic Period, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Gender / Feminism, British Literature, Victorian Period

Jane Eyre: An Autobiography is a bildungsroman, or coming of age novel, written by Charlotte Brontë and originally published in 1847 under the male pseudonym Currer Bell by Smith, Elder & Co. of London. Through Jane’s life and experiences, Brontë examines social issues including religious hypocrisy, class discrimination, and sexism. Many literary theorists and biographers—including Brontë’s friend and fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell—have also noted numerous similarities between the novel’s events and Brontë’s personal history. The... Read Jane Eyre Summary

Publication year 1895Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Society: Class, Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Victorian Period, Classic Fiction, Class, Historical Fiction, Romance

English author Thomas Hardy published his final novel, Jude the Obscure, in 1895. Critics deemed it “immoral” and “indecent,” and it became a target of book burnings because of its critique of marriage, religion, education, and class structure. The narrative follows the tragic journey of Jude Fawley, a working-class man striving for education and love, whose aspirations are consistently thwarted by societal barriers, personal setbacks, and internal struggles.This guide refers to the e-book version of... Read Jude the Obscure Summary

Publication year 1862Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Classic Fiction, Gender / Feminism, Victorian Period

Lady Audley’s Secret was published in 1862 and caused a stir among Victorian readers with its depiction of murder, madness, extortion, and bigamy. The novel centers on a young woman, Lucy Graham, a governess working in the village of Audley. Everyone in the village is charmed by her, including Sir Michael Audley, who was instantly smitten with her youth, beauty, and sweet demeanor. Sir Michael is a wealthy, 56-year-old widower who did not want Lucy to... Read Lady Audley's Secret Summary

Publication year 1857Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Society: Class, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Satire, Class

Charles Dickens’s novel Little Dorrit was originally published in serialized form between 1855 and 1857. In this novel, the author satirizes government and society at large, with a specific focus on debtors’ prisons that incarcerated those in debt. The prison in Little Dorrit is the Marshalsea, where at one time, Charles Dickens’s father was imprisoned for debt. Little Dorrit explores common Dickensian themes such as economic class, duty, and societal issues. This study guide refers... Read Little Dorrit Summary

Publication year 1886Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Society: Class, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Natural World: Nurture v. NatureTags Classic Fiction, Children's Literature, Victorian Period, British Literature

Publication year 1848Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Relationships: Family, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Historical Fiction, Romance, Class

Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester is the 1848 debut novel of Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell. It tells of the Victorian working class in Manchester, England, from 1839 to 1842, focusing on the story of the eponymous young female heroine. Through the experiences of two families—the Bartons and the Wilsons—it explores contemporary political and domestic issues during a time of increased industrialization and class tensions. As with much of Gaskell’s work, Mary Barton is narrated by... Read Mary Barton Summary

Publication year 1871Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Society: Community, Society: ClassTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Historical Fiction, British Literature

Middlemarch or Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is a Victorian realist novel by George Eliot (the penname of Mary Ann Evans). Published over the course of 1871-72, the novel depicts the trials and tribulations of life in the small English town of Middlemarch. The novel has been hailed as one of the greatest works of English literature and has been adapted for radio, television, theater, and opera. This guide uses an eBook version of... Read Middlemarch Summary

Publication year 1842Genre Poem, FictionTags Poetry: Dramatic Poem, Victorian Period

Publication year 1890Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: The Future, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: BeautyTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Classic Fiction, Politics / Government, Victorian Period

News From Nowhere by William Morris (1834-1896) is a work of speculative science fiction and socialist utopian imagination. The narrator, William Guest, is mysteriously transported from 1890 to the 21st century. As he travels through a version of London that is both familiar and strange, he records his impressions of the socialist society that has come to replace the industrialized, capitalist one of his own time. Through conversations with a number of 21st-century Londoners, Guest... Read News from Nowhere Summary

Publication year 1839Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Historical Fiction, British Literature

Nicholas Nickleby is Victorian writer Charles Dickens’s third novel. Published through serialization in 1838, it first appeared in its novel form in 1839. The novel has been adapted for the stage and for the screen several times, the first theatrical version appearing in 1838, before the novel was even finished. Dickens wrote Nicholas Nickleby with the intention of exposing the abuses of for-profit boarding schools in England. In focusing on the titular hero, Nicholas, Dickens’s... Read Nicholas Nickleby Summary

Publication year 1854Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Victorian Period, Industrial Revolution, Historical Fiction, Romance, Class

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell debuted in Charles Dickens’s magazine Household Words, appearing in 20 weekly installments between September 1854 and January 1855. The novel was later published in two volumes. Dickens heavily edited the novel and changed the title from Margaret Hale to North and South. In the novel, Gaskell draws on her personal experience of being married to a Unitarian minister, a role that brought her into contact with all levels of... Read North and South Summary

Publication year 1838Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Industrial Revolution, Victorian Period, British Literature

Oliver Twist is Charles Dickens’s second novel. First published in serial form in 1837, the work was later compiled into a novel. The novel has been adapted into many a screenplay and movie, and is often referenced in popular culture. Oliver Twist follows the life of the titular Oliver on the streets of London in the early 19th century.Orphaned at birth, Oliver is raised in numerous government and church-run workhouses. There, Oliver is subjected to... Read Oliver Twist Summary

Publication year 1859Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Society: Politics & Government, Society: NationTags Philosophy, Politics / Government, Arts / Culture, History: European, British Literature, Victorian Period

On Liberty is a philosophical essay on ethics, society, and politics published in 1859 by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill. His work on the subject matter extended back several years, through an illustrious career as a politician and philosopher. Mill’s ideas center on the concept of utilitarianism, which emphasizes efficiency and collective well-being. The book remains in print in the 21st century.SummaryOn Liberty is divided into five chapters: an introduction; “On the liberty of... Read On Liberty Summary

Publication year 1865Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Satire, British Literature

Our Mutual Friend is a Victorian Realist novel by Charles Dickens, published in serial form from 1864 to 1865. The novel is notable among Dickens’s work for its scathing satire of social conditions in London during the era. Our Mutual Friend has been adapted for film, television, and radio and explores themes of The Tension Between Poverty and Dignity, The Relationship Between Names and Identity, and The Rigidity of Social Class.This guide uses the 2008... Read Our Mutual Friend Summary

Publication year 1879Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Society: WarTags Lyric Poem, Victorian Period