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The 1800s: The Development of British Literature

General trends

The reign of Queen Victoria is also called “the age of Fiction” because fiction became the most important form of entertainment of the middle classes and novels became more popular than theatre.
The quantity of fictions produced increased the gap between “good” and “bad” fiction: bad fiction was based on the repetition of melodramatic clichés from the Gothic tradition and the use of suspense.
There is a increase of serialisation: the novels were divided in more episodes written in magazines.
Prose was more popular than poetry.


In the Victorian Age there are two main period of fiction:
First Period:
- Readers and novelist have the same ideas and were optimistic: they trust in progress;
- Novelists saw and denounced the evils of their time but didn’t react against the system;
- Novelists want to represent the real life;
- Characters conformed to the rules that were generally accepted;
- The narrative voice expressed the dominant moral views of the time.

Second Period:

- The shared view between novelists and readers began to break down;
- Writers starts to see the price in progress and start to react against the evil caused by the system;
- Writers were pessimistic and ironic and criticise Victorian values.

Mainstream Victorian culture

The biggest represent of Victorian Age is Charles Dickens. His novels denounces abuses in education, the law and the work in emotional stories. In other novels he denounces the injustice of social institution and the inequalities between rich and poor and his work focus more in psychological aspects.
Readers recognised in novels how themselves felt, thought and experienced.
His novels are open to criticism from a formal point of view; he had an ability to create caricatures.

Another novelist was Thackeray.
Dickens -> describe the life of the middle and the working classes;
Thackeray -> satirising about the upper middle class that was selfish, corrupted, lust for money..

Later poets

In the second generation of Victorian Age we found Hardy and Yeats.
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