Blog Posts - A Victorian Alphabet



A Victorian Alphabet: A Retrospect

Eighteen months ago, I began a series looking at twenty-six themes and topics in Victorian literature linked to the letters of the alphabet. Now, having recently posted Z (for Zuleika!), I’ll be recapping what we covered and linking to any posts yo...
by The Secret Victorianist on Mar 16, 2015

A Victorian Alphabet: Z is for Zuleika

After 25 letters in my Victorian Alphabet, I’m cheating a little bit here, as Max Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson, or An Oxford Love Story wasn’t actually published until 1911. But, having recently finished reading Rupert Hart-Davis’s Letters...
by The Secret Victorianist on Mar 7, 2015

A Victorian Alphabet: Y is for Why Yellow??

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper(1892) is a staple nineteenth-century text for students of literature in the English-speaking world, and especially the US. The 6,000-word short story is an account written in the first person of a wom...
by The Secret Victorianist on Jan 31, 2015

A Victorian Alphabet: W is for Witchcraft

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I’d use ‘W’ in my Victorian Alphabet to look at a subject not often associated with the nineteenth-century – witchcraft.Those interested in witchcraft and the supernatural most often turn to Ea...
by The Secret Victorianist on Oct 29, 2014

A Victorian Alphabet: V is for Vulnerable Victorian Virginity

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Ruth(1853) is one of the most famous nineteenth-century novels to deal with a ‘fallen woman’, who loses her virginity before marriage and bears an illegitimate child. And sympathetic as the novel is to Ruth, a dressmaker’s...
by The Secret Victorianist on Sep 17, 2014

A Victorian Alphabet: U is for 'Ulysses' and You

Alfred, Lord  Tennyson probably wasn’t thinking of the ageing head of a British intelligence service giving evidence at a government inquiry when he wrote the closing lines of the 1833 poem ‘Ulysses’, any more than Homer was when he wrote...
by The Secret Victorianist on Aug 24, 2014

A Victorian Alphabet: T is for Text, Time (and Trains)

A few days ago, I watched Richard Curtis’ About Time (2013) – a film which deals with time travel but through a romantic and domestic lens. The movie struck me in two ways – one, in its concentration on only one character who could travel throu...
by The Secret Victorianist on Jul 26, 2014

A Victorian Alphabet: S is for Swinburne, Sappho and Sadomasochism

Matthew Arnold criticised Algernon Charles Swinburne for his ‘fatal habit of using one hundred words when one would suffice’. So it is perhaps strange that Swinburne, a poet notable for his diffusiveness, should be so heavily indebted to that mos...
by The Secret Victorianist on Jun 29, 2014

A Victorian Alphabet: R is for Rome

The Secret Victorianist was in Rome last week to visit the same sites admired by Byron and Shelley, but it was the reaction of a fictional character to the eternal city which was playing most on my mind. Dorothea Brooke, a central character in George...
by The Secret Victorianist on May 28, 2014

A Victorian Alphabet: Q is for Quiz!

'Q' means quiz time in my Victorian Alphabet series. What type of nineteenth-century novel should YOU be a heroine in?
by The Secret Victorianist on May 10, 2014

A Victorian Alphabet: K is for 'The Kraken' (Tennyson, 1830)

Following on from the popularity of a post on Tennyson’s ‘To Virgil’ (1882) I wrote in October, I thought I’d use ‘K’ in my Victorian Alphabet to look at another of his poems – the shorter, and earlier ‘The Kraken’ – looking at ea...
by The Secret Victorianist on Jan 12, 2014

A Victorian Alphabet: J is for Jealousy in Jewsbury

‘I am more jealous of the mind than of the body; and, to me, there is something revolting in the notion  of a woman who professes to love and belong to you alone, going and printing the secrets of her inmost heart, the sacred workings of her s...
by The Secret Victorianist on Dec 30, 2013

A Victorian Alphabet: I is for Infants, Industrialisation and Imagination

‘Is it possible, I wonder, that there was any analogy between the case of the Coketown population and the case of the little Gradgrinds?’Charles Dickens’s 1854 novel Hard Times certainly leads us to the conclusion that there is some point of co...
by The Secret Victorianist on Dec 15, 2013

A Victorian Alphabet: H is for Hardy's Hair Extensions

Hair extensions may be more frequently associated with The Only Way is Essex than Far From the Madding Crowd, but rendering complex and voluminous nineteenth-century hairstyles couldn’t always rely on women’s natural hair – and often didn’t.
by The Secret Victorianist on Nov 30, 2013

A Victorian Alphabet: G is for Graves in Great Expectations

Charles Dickens’s 1861 Great Expectations is best represented in popular culture and imagination by two visual tableaux – the abandoned bride, among the ghostly trappings of her fruitless wedding day, and the small child and the convict among gra...
by The Secret Victorianist on Nov 20, 2013

A Victorian Alphabet: F is for Fern-Fever (Pteridomania)

It may sound like a tropical disease but the word Pteridomania (coined by Charles Kingsley in 1855) describes the passion for ferns and tropical plants which took possession of many across the social spectrum in the nineteenth century. In fern-fever,...
by The Secret Victorianist on Oct 29, 2013

A Victorian Alphabet: E is for the Eloi and Elysium

In an earlier post I dealt with some misconceptions people often have about nineteenth-century literature. And proving it’s not all frills, frocks and runaway marriages is H.G. Wells – one of those with a claim to the title ‘Father of Science F...
by The Secret Victorianist on Oct 12, 2013

A Victorian Alphabet: D is for Defending Daniel Deronda

Long before theorist and critic F.R. Leavis called for the ‘Jewish’ half of Daniel Deronda (1876) to be cut, George Eliot’s final novel was being seen as disparate, ill-considered and in need of editing. In a letter written in October 1876 to M...
by The Secret Victorianist on Oct 9, 2013

A Victorian Alphabet: C is for Caroline's Coriolanus

In a previous post, I looked at how emotional truths surpass the other benefits of classical learning for Charlotte Bronte heroines. But it’s not only in studying classicallanguages and literature that this preference for emotional education is exp...
by The Secret Victorianist on Oct 1, 2013

A Victorian Alphabet: C is for Caroline's Coriolanus

In a previous post, I looked at how emotional truths surpass the other benefits of classical learning for Charlotte Bronte heroines. But it’s not only in studying classicallanguages and literature that this preference for emotional education is exp...
by The Secret Victorianist on Oct 1, 2013


Trending Topics

Close