The Victorian era in British History is probably my most favourite part. It is because in this era, it flourished the long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence for Britain. In this period of time, it is the period where Queen Victoria reigned from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901.
The Industrial Revolution
This is the emergence of the technological, scientific and industrial innovations like mass production, steam engines, railways, sewing machines, gas and electric light, telegraph cars and others. Unfortunately, it resulted to dehumanisation of work, child labour, pollution, and the growth of cities where poverty, filth and disease flourished. A feature of the farm life then is working for long hours, very long pay, and exposure to all weathers. Child labour and poverty were also present.
Population Growth and Migration
The population of the UK doubled in between 1801 and 1871.Migration in both directions was also a feature in Victorian life.
Legislations protecting child and adult workers were a result of early campaigns of Michael Sadler, the Earl of Shaftesbury and reports by parliamentary commissions legislating on child labour, safety in mines and factories, public health and education. There is also the prison reform and the establishment of the police. Children up to age 10 was made compulsory by 1876.
The Rise of the Middle Classes
Society in the Victorian era is hierarchical. Self-made entrepreneurs used their wealth to rise in society, building large houses, educating their children and employing domestic servants.
The Growth of Democracy
The franchise was gradually extended to the working classes, until by the end of the period there was universal suffrage for men. The fight for votes for women was in full swing, but it was not until 1930 that women achieved the same voting rights as men.
Expansion of Empire
Before the start of the 19th century Britain had already lost her American Empire, and was acquiring another in India. Her accumulation of additional territory across the globe continued steadily. The Great Exhibition of 1851 displayed the wonders of both industry and Empire. Tied up with the Empire were Britain’s trading dominance, naval and military strength, and competition for territory against other European nations. By the end of Victoria’s reign imperialists could boast that the sun never set upon the British Empire.
Idealisation of the Family
Respectable and loving is the ideal family that dominated the Victorian era. The cult of the home grew steadily, with Queen Victoria and her family providing a role model for the nation.
The Growth of Legal Pursuits
The 19th century saw the beginning of mass leisure: seaside holidays, religious activities, and the development of public parks, museums, libraries, spectator sports, theatres and music halls.
The whole period of the Victorian era is indeed filled with colours. This period perfectly presents rich sources where buildings, canals, railroads, documents, pictures, objects and music flourished and evolved.
Notable Events in the Victorian Era:
1819—Victoria is born.
1826—First photograph taken by Joseph Nicophore Niepce.
1829—Catholic Emancipation, ends most restrictions on Catholic civil rights, property ownership, & public service.
1832—Great Reform Act.
1834—Slavery banned in British colonies.
1837–67—Isambard Kingdom Brunel builds London to Bristol railway for the Great Western Railway.
1837—Victoria succeeds uncle, William IV, at age 18.
Dickens’s Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.
1837–67—Construction of neo-Gothic Houses of Parliament.
1838—Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby.
1840—Victoria marries first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, will have nine children.
Penny postage insituted.
Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop.
1842—Founding of Mudie’s Library by Charles Mudie.
1843—Carlyle’s Past and Present.
Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
First volume of Ruskin’s Modern Painters.
1844—Irish potato famine begins.
1845—Brunel builds the S. S. Great Britain, the first propeller-driven steamship.
1846—Repeal of Corn Laws, beginning era of free trade.
Dickens’s Dombey & Son.
1847—Ten Hours Act restricts working hours of children in factories.
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
1848—Founding of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto.
1849—Dickens’s David Copperfield.
1850—First British Public Library Act, permitting the establishment of public libraries.
Tennyson named Poet Laureate.
Dickens’s Household Words started.
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.
Dickens’s Bleak House.
1852—Opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Last duel fought in England at Priest Hill, Surrey (duels had been outlawed in 1840s).
1853—Livingstone discovers Victoria Falls.
1854—Florence Nightingale goes to Crimea and organizes nursing during the war.
Cigarettes introduced into Britain.
Dickens’s Hard Times.
1855—Balmoral Castle completed.
Newspaper stamp tax abolished.
Dickens’s Little Dorrit.
1856—Henry Bessemer invents blast furnace, permitting mass production of steel.
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.
1858—Government of India transferred to the Crown.
Big Ben bell cast (April 10).
John Speke discovers Lake Victoria.
Launching of Brunel’s Great Eastern, largest ship yet built.
1859—Big Ben enters service (May 31).
First women admitted to Royal Academy schools.
Darwin’s Origin of the Species.
Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities.
1860—Introduction of trams into England (August 30).
Dickens’s Great Expectations.
Nightingale publishes first definitive textbooks on nursing.
1861—Death of Prince Albert of typhoid fever at age 42.
Founding of Morris’s design firm.
1862—Speke & Grant discover sources of the river Nile.
1863–65—Construction of St. Pancras train station.
1863–72—Construction of Albert Memorial.
1863—First underground railway, Metropolitan Railway in London between Paddington & Farringdon St. (opens Jan. 10).
Marriage of Prince of Wales (Bertie, later King Edward VII) and Alexandra (March 10).
Broadmoor criminal lunatic asylum opened (May 27).
1864—Cafe Royal founded in London (bombed in 1940).
Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend.
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.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
1866—First Atlantic telegraph cable successfully laid by the SS Great Eastern (completed September 7).
Swinburne’s Poems and Ballads.
1867–71—Construction of Royal Albert Hall.
1867—Second Reform Act, extending vote to tax-paying males of the urban working class.
1868—Disraeli becomes Prime Minister; defeated within several months in election.
Last public execution (May 26); public hangings stopped because caused crime among spectators.
Last shipment of convicts from England to Australia.
Metropolitan District Railway between Mansion House and South Kensington opens in London.
1869—Ferdinand de Lesseps builds Suez Canal, dramatically cutting journey to & from Australia & Far East.
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).
Publication completed of Encyclopedia Britannica (began 1768).
Opening of Royal Albert Hall (March 29).
1872—Secret ballot made compulsory; G. Eliot’s Middlemarch.
1874—Disraeli becomes Prime Minister for second time, governs until 1880.
1875—First intelligible telephone communication made by Bell (June 5).
Disraeli buys Britain controlling interest in Suez Canal.
1876—Victoria named Empress of India.
1877—Founding of Truth magazine.
Telephones, invented by Scottish scientist Alexander Graham Bell, become available.
American Thomas Edison invents the phonograph, recording “Mary had a little lamb.”
1878—First electric street lighting in London.
Whistler vs. Ruskin Trial.
1879—Edison invents the electric light bulb.
1880—St. James’s Gazette begins publication (absorbed by the Evening Standard in 1905).
First telephone directory issued in Britain (January 15).
1881—Founding of TitBits periodical by George Newnes.
Electric light first used domestically.
First electric power station in England opened at Goldalming.
1883—Expansion of Married Women’s Property Act.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
1884—Third Reform Act, extending voting rights to agricultural workers.
Term “Industrial Revolution,” for the period of 1760 to 1840, coined by Arnold Toynbee.
Completion of Revised Version of the Bible.
1885—Karl Benz invents the first automobile.
1885–89—Founding of the Men’s and Women’s Club
1886–89—Anatole Baju’s journal Le Décadent.
1887—Golden Jubilee, celebration of 50th anniversary of Victoria’s reign.
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.”
County Councils created in Britain.
Founding of The Star (absorbed by The Evening News in 1960).
1889—Founding of Women’s Franchise League by Emmeline Pankhurst.
Arthur Symons’s Days and Nights.
1890—Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough.
First electric underground public railway line opens December 18: City & South London Railway between King William St. & Stockwell).
First comic book, Comic Cuts.
1891—Completion of New Scotland Yard by Norman Shaw.
Founding of the Romanes Lectures at Oxford University by George Romanes.
Kelmscott Press founded by William Morris.
Electrification of trams in England began in Leeds.
Education made free for every child.
Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, Salome, “The Critic as Artist,” and “Soul of Man Under Socialism.”
1892—Founding of The Westminster Gazette (absorbed by The Daily News in 1928).
Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan.
1893—Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance.
George Egerton’s Keynotes.
Arthur Wing Pinero’s Second Mrs. Tanqueray, starring Mrs. Patrick Campbell.
Aubrey Beardsley’s Le Morte Darthur.
Wilde’s Salome banned in London (staged in Paris in 1896).
New Zealand becomes first country to give women the right to vote.
1894–97—The Yellow Book.
Publication of Wilde’s Salome in English, with Beardsley’s illustrations.
1895—Founding of the London Promenade Concerts by Sir Henry Wood (October 6).
Wireless telegraphy brought about by Marconi.
Wilde’s The Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest.
The three Wilde trials.
Symons’s London Nights.
1896—Marconi patented wireless telegraphy (June 2).
Speed limit for cars was increased from 4 to 20 mph.
The Savoy (January–September).
1897—Official opening of the Tate Gallery, founded by Sir Henry Tate (July 21).
Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
1899—Symons’s Images of Good and Evil.
1901—Death of Queen Victoria at age 82 (January 22, 6:30 am).
Population of London reaches 6.6 million.