This engaging, informative collection of Victorian nonfiction prose juxtaposes classic texts and canonical writers with more obscure writings and authors in order to illuminate important debates in nineteenth-century Britain—inviting modern readers to see the age anew. The collection represents the voices of a broad scope of women and men on a range of nineteenth-century cultural issues and in various forms—from periodical essays to travel accounts, letters to lectures, and autobiographies to social surveys.
With its fifty-six substantial selections, Victorian Prose reaches beyond the work of Carlyle, Newman, Mill, Arnold, and Ruskin to uncover an array of lesser-known voices of the era. Women writers are given full attention—writings by Mary Prince, Dinah M. Craik, Florence Nightingale, Frances P. Cobbe, and Lucie Duff Gordon are among the entries.
Excerpts cover such topics of the age as British imperialism, the crisis of religious faith, and debates about gender. On the issue of colonial expansion, opinions range from Benjamin Disraeli's celebration of empire-building as evidence of Britain's glory to David Livingstone's promotion of commerce with Africa as a way to retard the slave trade and make it unprofitable. Views on "the woman question" extend from John Stuart Mill's defense of women's rights to Mrs. Humphry Ward's opposition to women's franchise and Sarah Ellis's support for the domestic ideal.
This invaluable resource features:
attention to important noncanonical writers—including a generous selection of women writers;
a wide range of written forms, including periodical essays, travel accounts, letters, lectures, autobiographies, and social surveys;
both chronological and thematic tables of contents—the latter encompassing subject areas such as England at home and abroad, the new sciences, religion, and the status of women;
selections drawn from the original nineteenth-century editions; and
annotations to each text that aid nonspecialists in understanding unfamiliar names, terms, and cultural debates.