Life in Victorian England Author:W. J. Reader Queen Victoria's reign saw the whole basis of English life swing decisively from agriculture to industry: from country to town. The outpouring of energy was enormous: the increase in wealth and population something that had never been dreamed possible before. The first of the great industrial States was in the making. Although many people li... more »ved in poverty, yet many more people than ever before were able to lead lives of decency and comfort. For the first time, a comfortable working class, in large numbers, began to form. At the same time, power and influence passed from the landed aristocracy to the town-made middle classes, who nevertheless continued to hanker after the social prestige which only the ownership of land could bestow.
Using mainly contemporary sources, Mr Reader sketches some aspect of these fundamental changes in English life. He surveys the early Victorian scene in his first chapter and reviews some of the influences that went to the making of Victorian England. His next two chapters deal with the rural life that was passing away. Then, after outlining the growth of towns, he goes on to describe the life that was lived in them by the poor, but the comfortable working class, and by the masters of the scene--the middle classes. He ends by showing that many of the characteristic features of twentieth-century English life were already apparent in the latter years of the Queen's reign, so that for better or worse England of the mid-nineteen-sixties is still powerfully influenced--not to say overshadowed--by this greatest of all periods of English history. The 125 illustrations have been chosen for their close relevance to the surrounding text, and for their unfamiliarity.« less