Historical Context

Because Queen Victoria is England’s longest-reigning monarch, we need to establish the historical context for these pieces of Victorian short fiction. Why do we need to know historical context, you ask? In order for you, as the reader, to better understand these pieces of short fiction, you need to understand the world in which they were written. What if you didn’t know what “bob” or a “prayer union” was? Or even who Queen Victoria was? How would that affect your understanding of the story? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. The purpose of historical context is to place the reader within the time period of the story. Everything from the 1810s to 1900s—because those are the years of Queen Victoria’s life and reign. Now you know.

For further information, click the links within the timeline or see our works cited.

Timeline Dates

 

Date

Event

1810 [top]

1817

Princess Charlotte and her child die in childbirth. Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine begins publishing.

1819

Victoria is born.
Publications: “A Raffle for a Wife”

1820 [top]

1826

First photograph is taken by Joseph Nicophore Niepce.

1829

Catholic Emancipation, ends most restrictions on Catholic civil rights, property ownership, & public service.

1830 [top]

1832

Great Reform Act

1834

Slavery banned in the British colonies.

1837

Victoria succeeds uncle, William IV, at age 18.Publications: Dickens’s Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.

1840 [top]

1840

Victoria marries first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, will have nine children.Penny postage insituted.

1843

Publications:  Dickens’s A Christmas Carol; First volume of Ruskin’s Modern Painters.

1844

Irish potato famine begins.

1845

The London Journal is published.

1846

Repeal of Corn Laws, beginning era of free trade.Publications:  Elizabeth Lynn Linton’s  “The Young Village Doctor”

1847

Ten Hours Act restricts working hours of children in factories.Publications:  Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

1848

Publications:  Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto.

 1850 [top]

1850

First British Public Library Act, permitting the establishment of public libraries.Tennyson named Poet Laureate.

1851

First telegraph cable laid across the English Channel.Invention of instantaneous photography by William Fox Talbot.First cigarettes sold in Britain.Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace.Half of population of Great Britain lives in cities. London population grows from 1.1 million in 1801 to 2.7 million; reaches 6.6 million in 1901.

1852

Opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

1853

The Crimean War begins. England and France become allied.

1856

The Crimean War ends.

1857

Founding of National Portrait Gallery.First telegraph cable laid across the Atlantic.Matrimonial Causes Act permits divorce for adultery (but women could not petition until 1923).Suppression of Indian mutiny against British rule in India.

1859

First women admitted to Royal Academy schools.Publications:  Darwin’s Origin of the Species; Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities. Macmillan’s Magazine begins publishing near the end of the year.

1860 [top]

1860

Publications:  Dickens’s Great Expectations.

1861

Death of Prince Albert of typhoid fever at age 42.
Publications: Hannah Clay, The Little Bread-Wasters

1863

The London Reader  began publication.

1865

Founding of Salvation Army by William Booth (July 2).Joseph Bazalgette completes metropolitan drainage system in London (began 1855).National Association for Women’s Suffrage formed in Manchester; no voting rights until 1918.Publications:  Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

1868

Last public execution (May 26); public hangings stopped because caused crime among spectators.Last shipment of convicts from England to Australia.Publications: “The Companions of Death”

1870 [top]

1870

Education Act, compulsory primary education until the age of 11.  A 1p ($1) fee per day for the schooling.Married Women’s Property Act gives women the right to earn and keep money for their own use

1871

Institution of practice of photographing prisoners (November 2).Publications:  Encyclopedia Britannica (began 1768).  “The Last Dragon”

1873

The start of England’s agricutural decline until World War I.

1876

Victoria named Empress of India.

1877

Telephones, invented by Scottish scientist Alexander Graham Bell, become available.

1880 [top]

1881

Alexander II, Russian tzar, assassination.

1887

Golden Jubilee, celebration of 50th anniversary of Victoria’s reign.Publications:  Arthur Conan Doyle’s  A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes story.

1888

Unsolved London murders of East End women by “Jack the Ripper.”

1889

Founding of Women’s Franchise League by Emmeline Pankhurst.

1890 [top]

1890

First comic book, Comic Cuts.

1891

Kelmscott Press founded by William Morris.Education made free for every child.The Strand began publication. Publications:  Wilde’s Picture of Dorian GraySalome, “The Critic as Artist,” and “Soul of Man Under Socialism”; “A White Christmas”; “Laying a Ghost”.

1893

“At the Green Dragon” is published.

1894

Publications:  Alice Maud Meadows’  “Singing Bob”

1895

The three Wilde trials.Publications:  Wilde’s The Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest .
L.T. Meade and Clifford Halifax, M.D., “The Seventh Step”; “Rachel and Leah”. The Tales of Mystery series starts.

1897

Publications:  Bram Stoker’s Dracula. “A Noble Scamp” begins publishing.

1900 [top]

1901

Death of Queen Victoria at age 82 (January 22, 6:30 am).Population of London reaches 6.6 million.

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