Victoria was born in 1819, She was very short, a little plump and rather plain. She was an independence spirit and She was stubborn and often quick tempered, She was also well educated. In 1837 Victoria was only 18 years and She was crowned in Westminster Abbey. In 1840 She married her cousin Albert and She devoted her life to him; They lived in harmony for 20 years and had 9 children. Albert died in 1861 and Victoria was devastated, She wore black till the end of her life and She withdrew from public view. Victoria died in 1901 after having reigned for 64 years. Queen Victoria embodied the "mother of the Nation" and She was considered a good queen.
Victoria’s reign was the longest reign in the British history, It was a peaceful reign. Victoria won the Nation’s hearts with her modesty and restored the reputation of the monarchy. During the reign of Queen Victoria, the British Empire grew and It was spread from the east to the west. The reign of Queen Victoria was a time of scientific, mechanical and medical progress, in the second half of the reign the wealth and world influence increased. The British Empire had colonies in 5 continents and Britain became the richest trading Nation and the "workshop of the world". In 1851 a great exhibition was attended in iron and glass Crystal Palace that symbolized the power of Britain. The prosperity of the Victorian age was the outcome of the Industrial revolution which made Britain the most powerful industrial country in the world.
THE BRITISH EMPIREThe expansion of British Empire may be explained by the need of a new market for British industry to sell their manufactured goods and by the opportunity of finding new sources of raw materials. The British Empire contained big parts of Africa, Middle East and small colonies right round the world from Gibraltar, Cyprus and Malta to Jamaica, Honduras, Hong Kong and Singapore. This was the British Empire "on which the sun never sets". England improved its economic and political position. The English policy developed a false and patronizing attitude towards the natives to hide its real economic purposes, They elaborated the theory of "the white man’s burden".
The English believed that they belonged to a country it was the fittest foe survival, the most intelligent could survive in the world; so They had the right and the duty to colonize underdeveloped cultures. Their theories derived from Darwin. Darwin in the 19th century published "Origin of species" that divided the society in creationists and evolutionists, the first believed that God had created world, the second believed that all living organism had evolved from one cell organism.
SOCIAL BACKGROUND OF THE VICTORIAN AGE
The growth of trade gave Victorian middle class the most important part in 19th century society. The Victorians followed a strict code of behavior, They were puritans, conformists, moralists, conservatives and proud of been English. The Victorian man was optimistic about his future because He trusted progress of his age. The Victorian man, devoted himself to philanthropy, to clear his bad conscience. In the latter part of the century there was a growth of a new social conscience. Charity started to organize in national institutions. Were born hundreds of philanthropic societies devoted to popular education, child care, medical assistance and other good causes and They were all private associations.
THE LITERATURE OF THE VICTORIAN AGENovel was the most popular form of literature in the Victorian age, its portrait the social reality of the time so readers could easily identify themselves with the characters of books. The Victorians published a lot of reading- matter : biography, autobiography, books of travel, newspapers and above all novels. There were many reasons to explain the success of novel: more people had enough culture to appreciate literature, people were richer and had money to buy books and there was an extension of the production of printed materials. The novels started to published in installments that cost one shilling and were published at the beginning of each month.
The publication in serial form encourage the spread of the novels but It also influenced its structure because It had to follow precise rules: the writer had to create suspense at the end of issues to encourage to buy the next one. The readers could influenced writers because He had an immediate feedback after the sale of issues and He could adjust the story according to the public’s tastes.
Victoria was loved by the middle classes, She reigned constitutionally avoiding revolutions that broke Europe in 1848. During her reign, while Great Britain developed into greatest political, industrial, commercial and financial power in the world, She also had to face with a number of social problems generated of industrial revolution. In the 18th century some parliamentary commissions started to inquire into factory working conditions and They passed a sense of factory acts in 1833 that limiting working hours and restricting child labor improved the conditions of the lower classes. The first part of the century was characterize by dissatisfaction and unrest in the lower classes, this gave rise to a extension of right to vote and other reforms the laws about the high tariffs. In 1867 the right to vote was extended to part of working classes and in 1870 the education act made elementary education compulsory.
THE WOMAN QUESTION
Queen Victoria also called the "mother of the Nation" personified the 19th century middle class woman, She was a perfect model of the family and respectability. The ideal Victorian woman was the "angel in the house" far from the busy and chaotic world of politics and business. Woman did not have the same rights as men: They couldn’t vote or hold political office. Women had limited education, therefore They couldn’t work. The only choice for unmarried middle class women who wanted to support herself was to work as governess, while working class women had to work hard and if they were out of work they often became prostitute.