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Alexander Williamson
A Victorian Chemist and the Making of Modern Japan
Takaaki Inuzuka
University College London, 2021
A short, accessible biography exploring Alexander Williamson’s contribution to nineteenth-century science and Japanese society.

Alexander Williamson was a leading scientist and professor of chemistry at University College London in the late nineteenth century. He taught and cared for visiting Japanese students, assisting them with their goal of modernizing Japan. This short, accessible biography explores his contribution to nineteenth-century science, as well as his lasting impact on Japanese society. In 1863 five students from the Chōshū clan, with a desperate desire to learn from the West, made their way to England. They were put in the care of Williamson and his wife. Their mission was to learn about cutting-edge Western technology, science, economics, and politics. When they returned home, they rapidly became leading figures in Japanese life. The remarkable story of the part Williamson and University College London played in the modernization of Japan is little known today. This biography will promote a deeper understanding of Williamson’s scientific innovations and his legacy for Anglo-Japanese relations.
 
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Animal Labor and Colonial Warfare
James L. Hevia
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Until well into the twentieth century, pack animals were the primary mode of transport for supplying armies in the field. The British Indian Army was no exception. In the late nineteenth century, for example, it forcibly pressed into service thousands of camels of the Indus River basin to move supplies into and out of contested areas—a system that wreaked havoc on the delicately balanced multispecies environment of humans, animals, plants, and microbes living in this region of Northwest India.
 
In Animal Labor and Colonial Warfare, James Hevia examines the use of camels, mules, and donkeys in colonial campaigns of conquest and pacification, starting with the Second Afghan War—during which an astonishing 50,000 to 60,000 camels perished—and ending in the early twentieth century. Hevia explains how during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a new set of human-animal relations were created as European powers and the United States expanded their colonial possessions and attempted to put both local economies and ecologies in the service of resource extraction. The results were devastating to animals and human communities alike, disrupting centuries-old ecological and economic relationships. And those effects were lasting: Hevia shows how a number of the key issues faced by the postcolonial nation-state of Pakistan—such as shortages of clean water for agriculture, humans, and animals, and limited resources for dealing with infectious diseases—can be directly traced to decisions made in the colonial past. An innovative study of an underexplored historical moment, Animal Labor and Colonial Warfare opens up the animal studies to non-Western contexts and provides an empirically rich contribution to the emerging field of multispecies historical ecology.
 
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The Annotated Prison Writings of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Harvard University Press, 2018

“And I? May I say nothing, my lord?” With these words, Oscar Wilde’s courtroom trials came to a close. The lord in question, High Court justice Sir Alfred Wills, sent Wilde to the cells, sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor for the crime of “gross indecency” with other men. As cries of “shame” emanated from the gallery, the convicted aesthete was roundly silenced.

But he did not remain so. Behind bars and in the period immediately after his release, Wilde wrote two of his most powerful works—the long autobiographical letter De Profundis and an expansive best-selling poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. In The Annotated Prison Writings of Oscar Wilde, Nicholas Frankel collects these and other prison writings, accompanied by historical illustrations and his rich facing-page annotations. As Frankel shows, Wilde experienced prison conditions designed to break even the toughest spirit, and yet his writings from this period display an imaginative and verbal brilliance left largely intact. Wilde also remained politically steadfast, determined that his writings should inspire improvements to Victorian England’s grotesque regimes of punishment. But while his reformist impulse spoke to his moment, Wilde also wrote for eternity.

At once a savage indictment of the society that jailed him and a moving testimony to private sufferings, Wilde’s prison writings—illuminated by Frankel’s extensive notes—reveal a very different man from the famous dandy and aesthete who shocked and amused the English-speaking world.

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An Appeal to the Ladies of Hyderabad
Scandal in the Raj
Benjamin B. Cohen
Harvard University Press, 2019

The dramatic story of Mehdi Hasan and Ellen Donnelly, whose marriage convulsed high society in nineteenth-century India and whose notorious trial and fall reverberated throughout the British Empire, setting the benchmark for Victorian scandals.

In April 1892, a damning pamphlet circulated in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, the capital of the largest and wealthiest princely state in the British Raj. An anonymous writer charged Mehdi Hasan, an aspiring Muslim lawyer from the north, and Ellen Donnelly, his Indian-born British wife, with gross sexual misconduct and deception. The scandal that ensued sent shock waves from Calcutta to London. Who wrote this pamphlet, and was it true?

Mehdi and Ellen had risen rapidly among Hyderabad’s elites. On a trip to London they even met Queen Victoria. Not long after, a scurrilous pamphlet addressed to “the ladies of Hyderabad” charged the couple with propagating a sham marriage for personal gain. Ellen, it was claimed, had been a prostitute, and Mehdi was accused of making his wife available to men who could advance his career. To avenge his wife and clear his name, Mehdi filed suit against the pamphlet’s printer, prompting a trial that would alter their lives.

Based on private letters, courtroom transcripts, secret government reports, and scathing newspaper accounts, Benjamin Cohen’s riveting reconstruction of the couple’s trial and tribulations lays bare the passions that ran across racial lines and the intimate betrayals that doomed the Hasans. Filled with accusations of midnight trysts and sexual taboos, An Appeal to the Ladies of Hyderabad is a powerful reminder of the perils facing those who tried to rewrite society’s rules. In the struggle of one couple, it exposes the fault lines that would soon tear a world apart.

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Black Victorians / Black Victoriana
Edited by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
Rutgers University Press, 2003
Black Victorians/Black Victoriana is a welcome attempt to correct the historical record. Although scholarship has given us a clear view of nineteenth-century imperialism, colonialism, and later immigration from the colonies, there has for far too long been a gap in our understanding of the lives of blacks in Victorian England. Without that understanding, it remains impossible to assess adequately the state of the black population in Britain today. Using a transatlantic lens, the contributors to this book restore black Victorians to the British national picture. They look not just at the ways blacks were represented in popular culture but also at their lives as they experienced them—as workers, travelers, lecturers, performers, and professionals. Dozens of period photographs bring these stories alive and literally give a face to the individual stories the book tells.

The essays taken as a whole also highlight prevailing Victorian attitudes toward race by focusing on the ways in which empire building spawned a "subculture of blackness" consisting of caricature, exhibition, representation, and scientific racism absorbed by society at large. This misrepresentation made it difficult to be both black and British while at the same time it helped to construct British identity as a whole. Covering many topics that detail the life of blacks during this period, Black Victorians/Black Victoriana will be a landmark contribution to the emergent field of black history in England.

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The Born in the Spring
A Collection of Spring Wildflowers
June Carver Roberts
Ohio University Press, 2024
A must for flower and art lovers, Born in the Spring is a unique collection of line drawings and magnificent watercolors of spring wildflowers. All of the drawings and paintings were done from living plants, in minute detail, with complete botanical accuracy. There are over 90 illustrations, 46 of which are in full color. The text accompanying each plate enables the reader to easily locate the flower in its natural setting. The text also includes the origins of the common and botanical names, and bits of history and lore connected with the flowers. Some are hardy aliens that have come from all over the world, while others are fragile natives described by the earliest settlers; some are now becoming rare.
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British Law and Governance in Treaty Port China 1842-1927
Consuls, Courts and Colonial Subjects
Alexander Thompson
Amsterdam University Press
In putting extraterritoriality into practice in the treaty ports, the British state did not simply withdraw rights from the Chinese state; it inhabited the space made by extraterritoriality by building institutions and engaging in practices which had consequences for the development of the treaty ports, and which need to be at the forefront of any attempt to understand colonialism in China. Through a focus both on the creation of law and institutions, and also on the management of British ‘problem populations’ – violent Europeans and ‘martial’ Indians – this book provides a revision of the history of empire and colonialism in China, explaining important features which have to date been glossed over in studies of other aspects of treaty port colonialism. Colonialism in China casts a long shadow, but key aspects of the British state’s central role in this history have before now been little understood.
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British Romanticism and Prison Reform
Jonas Cope
Bucknell University Press, 2025

In eighteenth-century Britain, criminals were routinely whipped, branded, hanged, or transported to America. Only in the last quarter of the century—with the War of American Independence and legal and sociopolitical challenges to capital punishment—did the criminal justice system change, resulting in the reformed prison, or penitentiary, meant to educate, rehabilitate, and spiritualize even hardened felons. This volume is the first to explore the relationship between historical penal reform and Romantic-era literary texts by luminaries such as Godwin, Keats, Byron, and Jane Austen. The works examined here treat incarceration as ambiguous: prison walls oppress and reinforce the arbitrary power of legal structures but can also heighten meditation, intensify the imagination, and awaken the conscience. Jonas Cope skillfully traces the important ideological work these texts attempt: to reconcile a culture devoted to freedom with the birth of the modern prison system that presents punishment as a form of rehabilitation.

Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
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Capturing the British Landscape
Alfred Augustus Glendening (1840–1921)
Alice Munro-Faure
Paul Holberton Publishing, 2022
The life and work of Victorian landscape painter Alfred Augustus Glendening, illustrating his rapid rise from railway clerk to an acclaimed artist.

Though critics often reviewed Alfred Augustus Glendening’s exhibitions, very little has been written about the artist himself. Here, new and extensive research removes layers of mystery and misinformation about his life, family, and career, accurately placing him amid the British art world during much of the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. Glendening was a man from humble origins, working full-time as a railway clerk when he managed to make his London exhibition debut at the age of twenty—a feat that would have been almost impossible before the Victorian era ushered in new possibilities of social mobility. Although his paintings show a tranquil and unspoiled landscape, his environment was rapidly being transformed by social, scientific, and industrial developments, while advances in transport, photography, and other technical discoveries undoubtedly influenced him and his fellow painters.

Celebrating his uniquely Victorian story, the book places Glendening within his proper historical context. Running alongside the main text is a timeline outlining significant landmarks, from political and social events to artistic and technical innovations. Thoroughly researched, the narrative explores why and for whom he painted, his artistic training, and his various inspirations. The book uncovers new information about the Victorian art world and embraces such aspects as Royal Academy prejudices, the popularity of Glendening’s work at home and abroad, his use of photography, and the sourcing of his art materials. 
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Cleansing the City
Sanitary Geographies in Victorian London
Michelle Allen
Ohio University Press, 2008
Cleansing the City: Sanitary Geographies in Victorian London explores not only the challenges faced by reformers as they strove to clean up an increasingly filthy city but the resistance to their efforts. Beginning in the 1830s, reform-minded citizens, under the banner of sanitary improvement, plunged into London’s dark and dirty spaces and returned with the material they needed to promote public health legislation and magnificent projects of sanitary engineering. Sanitary reform, however, was not always met with unqualified enthusiasm. While some improvements, such as slum clearances, the development of sewerage, and the embankment of the Thames, may have made London a cleaner place to live, these projects also destroyed and reshaped the built environment, and in doing so, altered the meanings and experiences of the city.

From the novels of Charles Dickens and George Gissing to anonymous magazine articles and pamphlets, resistance to reform found expression in the nostalgic appreciation of a threatened urban landscape and anxiety about domestic autonomy in an era of networked sanitary services. Cleansing the City emphasizes the disruptions and disorientation occasioned by purification—a process we are generally inclined to see as positive. By recovering these sometimes oppositional, sometimes ambivalent responses, Michelle Allen elevates a significant undercurrent of Victorian thought into the mainstream and thus provides insight into the contested nature of sanitary modernization.
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Deep Mapping the Literary Lake District
A Geographical Text Analysis
Joanna E. Taylor
Bucknell University Press, 2022
England’s famed Lake District—best known as the place of inspiration for the Wordsworths, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and other Romantic-era writers—is the locus of this pioneering study, which implements and critiques a new approach to literary analysis in the digital age. Deploying innovative methods from literary studies, corpus linguistics, historical geography, and geographical information science, Deep Mapping the Literary Lake District combines close readings of a body of writing about the region from 1622-1900 with distant approaches to textual analysis. This path-breaking volume exemplifies interdisciplinarity, demonstrating how digital humanities methodologies and geospatial tools can enhance our appreciation of a region whose topography has been long recognized as fundamental to the shape of the poetry and prose produced within it.
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Diet for a Large Planet
Industrial Britain, Food Systems, and World Ecology
Chris Otter
University of Chicago Press, 2020
A history of the unsustainable modern diet—heavy in meat, wheat, and sugar—that requires more land and resources than the planet is able to support.

We are facing a world food crisis of unparalleled proportions. Our reliance on unsustainable dietary choices and agricultural systems is causing problems both for human health and the health of our planet. Solutions from lab-grown food to vegan diets to strictly local food consumption are often discussed, but a central question remains: how did we get to this point?

In Diet for a Large Planet, Chris Otter goes back to the late eighteenth century in Britain, where the diet heavy in meat, wheat, and sugar was developing. As Britain underwent steady growth, urbanization, industrialization, and economic expansion, the nation altered its food choices, shifting away from locally produced plant-based nutrition. This new diet, rich in animal proteins and refined carbohydrates, made people taller and stronger, but it led to new types of health problems. Its production also relied on far greater acreage than Britain itself, forcing the nation to become more dependent on global resources. Otter shows how this issue expands beyond Britain, looking at the global effects of large agro-food systems that require more resources than our planet can sustain. This comprehensive history helps us understand how the British played a significant role in making red meat, white bread, and sugar the diet of choice—linked to wealth, luxury, and power—and shows how dietary choices connect to the pressing issues of climate change and food supply.
 
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Dressed as in a Painting
Women and British Aestheticism in an Age of Reform
Kimberly Wahl
University of New Hampshire Press, 2013
In Dressed as in a Painting, Kimberly Wahl provides a lucid exploration of the interrelations between fashion, art, and Aestheticism during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Although artistic forms of dress have been the subject of short studies before, no book has focused exclusively on Aesthetic dress and its various expressions in the visual cultures of Victorian Britain. More important, no book has attempted to investigate the gap between the material facts of artistic clothing as it was embodied on the wearer, and its presence as an idealized sartorial trope in the visual and textual print culture of the period.
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Health and Efficiency
Fatigue, the Science of Work, and the Making of the Working-Class Body
Steffan Blayney
University of Massachusetts Press, 2022

A new model of health emerged in Britain between 1870 and 1939. Centered on the working body, organized around the concept of efficiency, and grounded in scientific understandings of human labor, scientists, politicians, and capitalists of the era believed that national economic productivity could be maximized by transforming the body of the worker into a machine. At the core of this approach was the conviction that worker productivity was intimately connected to worker health.

Under this new “science of work,” fatigue was seen as the ultimate pathology of the working-class body, reducing workers’ capacity to perform continued physical or mental labor. As Steffan Blayney shows, the equation between health and efficiency did not go unchallenged. While biomedical and psychological experts sought to render the body measurable, governable, and intelligible, ordinary men and women found ways to resist the logics of productivity and efficiency imposed on them, and to articulate alternative perspectives on work, health, and the body.

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Historicizing the Enlightenment, Volume 1
Politics, Religion, Economy, and Society in Britain
Michael McKeon
Bucknell University Press, 2023
The Enlightenment has been blamed for some of the most deadly developments of modern life: racism and white supremacy, imperialist oppression, capitalist exploitation, neoliberal economics, scientific positivism, totalitarian rule. These developments are thought to have grown from principles that are rooted in the soil of the Enlightenment: abstraction, reduction, objectification, quantification, division, universalization. Michael McKeon’s new book corrects this defective view by historicizing the Enlightenment--by showing that the Enlightenment has been abstracted from its history. From its past: critics have ignored that Enlightenment thought is a reaction against deadly traditions that precede it. From its present: the Enlightenment extended its reactive analysis of the past to its own present through self-analysis and self-criticism. From its future: much of what’s been blamed amounts to the failure of its posterity to sustain Enlightenment principles. To historicize the Enlightenment requires that we conjure what it was like to live through the emergence of concepts and practices that are now commonplace—society, privacy, the public, the market, experiment, secularity, representative democracy, human rights, social class, sex and gender, fiction, the aesthetic attitude. McKeon’s book argues the continuity of Enlightenment thought, its consistency and integrity across this broad range of conceptual domains. It also shows how the Enlightenment has shaped our views of both tradition and modernity, and the revisionary work that needs to be done in order to understand our place in the future. In the process, Historicizing the Enlightenment exemplifies a distinctive historiography and historical method.
 
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
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Historicizing the Enlightenment, Volume 2
Literature, the Arts, and the Aesthetic in Britain
Michael McKeon
Bucknell University Press, 2023
Enlightenment critics from Dryden through Johnson and Wordsworth conceived the modern view that art and especially literature entails a double reflection: a reflection of the world, and a reflection on the process by which that reflection is accomplished. Instead “neoclassicism” and “Augustanism” have been falsely construed as involving a one-dimensional imitation of classical texts and an unselfconscious representation of the world. In fact these Enlightenment movements adopted an oblique perspective that registers the distance between past tradition and its present reenactment, between representation and presence. Two modern movements, Romanticism and modernism, have  appropriated as their own these innovations, which derive from Enlightenment thought. Both of these movements ground their error in a misreading of “imitation” as understood by Aristotle and his Enlightenment proponents. Rightly understood, neoclassical imitation, constitutively aware of the difference between what it knows and how it knows it, is an experimental inquiry that generates a range of prefixes—“counter-,” “mock-,” “anti-,” “neo-”—that mark formal degrees of its epistemological detachment. Romantic ideology has denied the role of the imagination in Enlightenment imitation, imposing on the eighteenth century a dichotomous periodization: duplication versus imagination, the mirror versus the lamp. Structuralist ideology has dichotomized narration and description, form and content, structure and history. Poststructuralist ideology has propounded for the novel a contradictory “novel tradition”—realism, modernism, postmodernism, postcolonialism—whose stages both constitute a sequence and collapse it, each stage claiming the innovation of the stage that precedes it.  

 
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
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Intimate Subjects
Touch and Tangibility in Britain's Cerebral Age
Simeon Koole
University of Chicago Press, 2024
An insightful history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain told through a single sense: touch.
 
When, where, and who gets to touch and be touched, and who decides? What do we learn through touch? How does touch bring us closer together or push us apart? These are urgent contemporary questions, but they have their origins in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain, when new urban encounters compelled intense discussion of what touch was, and why it mattered. In this vividly written book, Simeon Koole excavates the history of these concerns and reveals how they continue to shape ideas about “touch” in the present.
 
Intimate Subjects takes us to the bustling railway stations, shady massage parlors, all-night coffee stalls, and other shared spaces where passengers, customers, vagrants, and others came into contact, leading to new understandings of touch. We travel in crammed subway cars, where strangers negotiated the boundaries of personal space. We visit tea shops where waitresses made difficult choices about autonomy and consent. We enter classrooms in which teachers wondered whether blind children could truly grasp the world and labs in which neurologists experimented on themselves and others to unlock the secrets of touch. We tiptoe through London’s ink-black fogs, in which disoriented travelers became newly conscious of their bodies and feared being accosted by criminals. Across myriad forgotten encounters such as these, Koole shows, touch remade what it meant to be embodied—as well as the meanings of disability, personal boundaries, and scientific knowledge.
 
With imagination and verve, Intimate Subjects offers a new way of theorizing the body and the senses, as well as a new way of thinking about embodiment and vulnerability today.
 
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John Venn
A Life in Logic
Lukas M. Verburgt
University of Chicago Press, 2022
The first comprehensive history of John Venn’s life and work.

John Venn (1834–1923) is remembered today as the inventor of the famous Venn diagram. The postmortem fame of the diagram has until now eclipsed Venn’s own status as one of the most accomplished logicians of his day. Praised by John Stuart Mill as a “highly successful thinker” with much “power of original thought,” Venn had a profound influence on nineteenth-century scientists and philosophers, ranging from Mill and Francis Galton to Lewis Carroll and Charles Sanders Peirce. Venn was heir to a clerical Evangelical dynasty, but religious doubts led him to resign Holy Orders and instead focus on an academic career. He wrote influential textbooks on probability theory and logic, became a fellow of the Royal Society, and advocated alongside Henry Sidgwick for educational reform, including that of women’s higher education. Moreover, through his students, a direct line can be traced from Venn to the early analytic philosophy of G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, and family ties connect him to the famous Bloomsbury group. 

This essential book takes readers on Venn’s journey from Evangelical son to Cambridge don to explore his life and work in context. Drawing on Venn’s key writings and correspondence, published and unpublished, Lukas M. Verburgt unearths the legacy of the logician’s wide-ranging thinking while offering perspective on broader themes in religion, science, and the university in Victorian Britain. The rich picture that emerges of Venn, the person, is of a man with many sympathies—sometimes mutually reinforcing and at other times outwardly and inwardly contradictory.
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Literary Celebrity, Gender, and Victorian Authorship, 1850-1914
Alexis Easley
University of Delaware Press, 2011

This study examines literary celebrity in Britain from 1850 to 1914. Through lively analysis of rare cultural materials, Easley demonstrates the crucial role of the celebrity author in the formation of British national identity. As Victorians toured the homes and haunts of famous writers, they developed a sense of shared national heritage. At the same time, by reading sensational accounts of writers’ lives, they were able to reconsider conventional gender roles and domestic arrangements. As women were featured in interviews and profiles, they were increasingly associated with the ephemerality of the popular press and were often excluded from emerging narratives of British literary history, which defined great literature as having a timeless appeal. Nevertheless, women writers were able to capitalize on celebrity media as a way of furthering their own careers and retelling history on their own terms. Press attention had a more positive effect on men’s literary careers since they were expected to assume public identities; however, in some cases, media exposure had the effect of sensationalizing their lives, bodies, and careers. With the development of proto-feminist criticism and historiography, the life stories of male writers were increasingly used to expose unhealthy domestic relationships and imagine ideal forms of British masculinity.

The first section of Literary Celebrity explores the practice of literary tourism in Victorian Britain, focusing specifically on the homes and haunts of Charles Dickens, Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Harriet Martineau. This investigation incorporates analysis of fascinating cultural texts, including maps, periodicals, and tourist guidebooks. Easley links the practice of literary tourism to a variety of cultural developments, including nationalism, urbanization, spiritualism, the women’s movement, and the expansion of popular print culture. The second section provides fresh insight into the ways that celebrity culture informed the development of Victorian historiography. Easley demonstrates how women were able to re-tell history from a proto-feminist perspective by writing contemporary history, participating in architectural reform movements, and becoming active in literary societies. In this chapter she returns to the work of Harriet Martineau and introduces a variety of lesser-known contributors to the field, including Mary Gillies and Mary Ward. Literary Celebrity concludes with a third section focused on the expansion of celebrity media at the fin de siècle. These chapters and a brief coda link the popularization of celebrity news to the de-canonization of women writers, the professionalization of medicine, the development of the open space movement, and the institutionalization of English studies. These investigations elucidate the role of celebrity media in the careers of Charlotte Robinson, Marie Corelli, Mary Braddon, Harriet Martineau, Thomas Carlyle, Ernest Hart, and Octavia Hill.

Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
 

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Literature and Revolution
British Responses to the Paris Commune of 1871
Owen Holland
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Between March and May 1871, the Parisian Communards fought for a revolutionary alternative to the status quo grounded in a vision of internationalism, radical democracy and economic justice for the working masses that cut across national borders. The eventual defeat and bloody suppression of the Commune resonated far beyond Paris. In Britain, the Commune provoked widespread and fierce condemnation, while its defenders constituted a small, but vocal, minority. The Commune evoked long-standing fears about the continental ‘spectre’ of revolution, not least because the Communards’ seizure of power represented an embryonic alternative to the bourgeois social order.

This book examines how a heterogeneous group of authors in Britain responded to the Commune. In doing so, it provides the first full-length critical study of the reception and representation of the Commune in Britain during the closing decades of the nineteenth century, showing how discussions of the Commune functioned as a screen to project hope and fear, serving as a warning for some and an example to others. Writers considered in the book include John Ruskin, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Eliza Lynn Linton, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Anne Thackeray Ritchie, Margaret Oliphant, George Gissing, Henry James, William Morris, Alfred Austin and H.G. Wells. As the book shows, many, but not all, of these writers responded to the Commune with literary strategies that sought to stabilize bourgeois subjectivity in the wake of the traumatic shock of a revolutionary event. The book extends critical understanding of the Commune’s cultural afterlives and explores the relationship between literature and revolution.
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London Voices, 1820–1840
Vocal Performers, Practices, Histories
Edited by Roger Parker and Susan Rutherford
University of Chicago Press, 2019
London, 1820. The British capital is a metropolis that overwhelms dwellers and visitors alike with constant exposure to all kinds of sensory stimulation. Over the next two decades, the city’s tumult will reach new heights: as population expansion places different classes in dangerous proximity and ideas of political and social reform linger in the air, London begins to undergo enormous infrastructure change that will alter it forever.

It is the London of this period that editors Roger Parker and Susan Rutherford pinpoint in this book, which chooses one broad musical category—voice—and engages with it through essays on music of the streets, theaters, opera houses, and concert halls; on the raising of voices in religious and sociopolitical contexts; and on the perception of voice in literary works and scientific experiments with acoustics. Emphasizing human subjects, this focus on voice allows the authors to explore the multifaceted issues that shaped London, from the anxiety surrounding the city’s importance in the musical world at large to the changing vocal imaginations that permeated the epoch. Capturing the breadth of sonic stimulations and cultures available—and sometimes unavoidable—to residents at the time, London Voices, 1820–1840 sheds new light on music in Britain and the richness of London culture during this period.
 
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Love among the Poets
The Victorian Poetics of Intimacy
Pearl Chaozon Bauer; Erik Gray
Ohio University Press, 2024
British literature of the Victorian period has always been celebrated for the quality, innovativeness, and sheer profusion of its love poetry. Every major Victorian poet produced notable poems about love. This includes not only canonical figures, such as Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Christina Rossetti, but also lesser-known poets whose works have only recently become widely recognized and studied, such as Augusta Webster and the many often anonymous working-class poets whose verses filled the pages of popular periodicals. Modern critics have claimed, convincingly, that love poetry is not just one strain of Victorian poetry among many; it is arguably its representative, even definitive, mode. This collection of essays reconsiders the Victorian poetry of love and, just as importantly, of intimacy—a more inclusive term that comprehends not only romance but love for family, for God, for animals, and for language itself. Together the essays seek to define a poetics of intimacy that arose during the Victorian period and that continues today, a set of poetic structures and strategies by which poets can represent and encode feelings of love. There exist many studies of intimate relations (especially marriage) in Victorian novels. But although poetry rivals the novel in the depth and diversity of its treatment of love, marriage, and intimacy, that aspect of Victorian verse has remained underexamined. Love among the Poets offers an expansive critical overview. With its slate of distinguished contributors, including scholars from the US, Canada, Britain, and Australia, the volume is a wide-ranging account of this vital era of poetry and of its importance for the way we continue to write, love, and live today.
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Making Entomologists
How Periodicals Shaped Scientific Communities in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Matthew Wale
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2022

Popular natural history periodicals in the nineteenth century had an incredible democratizing power. By welcoming contributions from correspondents regardless of their background, they posed a significant threat to those who considered themselves to be gatekeepers of elite science, and who in turn used their own periodicals to shape more exclusive communities. Making Entomologists reassesses the landscape of science participation in the nineteenth century, offering a more nuanced analysis of the supposed amateur-professional divide that resonates with the rise of citizen science today. Matthew Wale reveals how an increase in popular natural history periodicals during the nineteenth century was instrumental in shaping not only the life sciences and the field of entomology but also scientific communities that otherwise could not have existed. These publications enabled many actors—from wealthy gentlemen of science to working-class naturalists—to participate more fully within an extended network of fellow practitioners and, crucially, imagine themselves as part of a wider community. Women were also active participants in these groups, although in far smaller numbers than men. Although periodicals of the nineteenth century have received considerable scholarly attention, this study focuses specifically on the journals and magazines devoted to natural history.

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Marketable Values
Inventing the Property Market in Modern Britain
Desmond Fitz-Gibbon
University of Chicago Press, 2018
The idea that land should be—or even could be—treated like any other commodity has not always been a given. For much of British history, land was bought and sold in ways that emphasized its role in complex networks of social obligation and political power, and that resisted comparisons with more easily transacted and abstract markets. Fast-forward to today, when house-flipping is ubiquitous and references to the fluctuating property market fill the news. How did we get here?
 
In Marketable Values, Desmond Fitz-Gibbon seeks to answer that question. He tells the story of how Britons imagined, organized, and debated the buying and selling of land from the mid-eighteenth to the early twentieth century. In a society organized around the prestige of property, the desire to commodify land required making it newly visible through such spectacles  as public auctions, novel professions like auctioneering, and real estate journalism. As Fitz-Gibbon shows, these innovations sparked impassioned debates on where, when, and how to demarcate the limits of a market society. As a result of these collective efforts, the real estate business became legible to an increasingly attentive public and a lynchpin of modern economic life.
 
Drawing on an eclectic range of sources—from personal archives and estate correspondence to building designs, auction handbills, and newspapers—Marketable Values explores the development of the British property market and the seminal role it played in shaping the relationship we have to property around the world today.
 
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Materials of the Mind
Phrenology, Race, and the Global History of Science, 1815-1920
James Poskett
University of Chicago Press, 2019
This is not only the first global history of nineteenth-century science but the first global history of phrenology.

Phrenology was the most popular mental science of the Victorian age. From American senators to Indian social reformers, this new mental science found supporters around the globe. Materials of the Mind tells the story of how phrenology changed the world—and how the world changed phrenology.
 
This is a story of skulls from the Arctic, plaster casts from Haiti, books from Bengal, and letters from the Pacific. Drawing on far-flung museum and archival collections, and addressing sources in six different languages, Materials of the Mind is an impressively innovative account of science in the nineteenth century as part of global history. It shows how the circulation of material culture underpinned the emergence of a new materialist philosophy of the mind, while also demonstrating how a global approach to history can help us reassess issues such as race, technology, and politics today.
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Merchants of Medicines
The Commerce and Coercion of Health in Britain’s Long Eighteenth Century
Zachary Dorner
University of Chicago Press, 2020
The period from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century—the so-called long eighteenth century of English history—was a time of profound global change, marked by the expansion of intercontinental empires, long-distance trade, and human enslavement. It was also the moment when medicines, previously produced locally and in small batches, became global products. As greater numbers of British subjects struggled to survive overseas, more medicines than ever were manufactured and exported to help them. Most historical accounts, however, obscure the medicine trade’s dependence on slave labor, plantation agriculture, and colonial warfare.

In Merchants of Medicines, Zachary Dorner follows the earliest industrial pharmaceuticals from their manufacture in the United Kingdom, across trade routes, and to the edges of empire, telling a story of what medicines were, what they did, and what they meant. He brings to life business, medical, and government records to evoke a vibrant early modern world of London laboratories, Caribbean estates, South Asian factories, New England timber camps, and ships at sea. In these settings, medicines were produced, distributed, and consumed in new ways to help confront challenges of distance, labor, and authority in colonial territories. Merchants of Medicines offers a new history of economic and medical development across early America, Britain, and South Asia, revealing the unsettlingly close ties among medicine, finance, warfare, and slavery that changed people’s expectations of their health and their bodies.
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Naoroji
Pioneer of Indian Nationalism
Dinyar Patel
Harvard University Press, 2020

Winner of the 2021 Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay–NIF Book Prize

The definitive biography of Dadabhai Naoroji, the nineteenth-century activist who founded the Indian National Congress, was the first British MP of Indian origin, and inspired Gandhi and Nehru.

Mahatma Gandhi called Dadabhai Naoroji the “father of the nation,” a title that today is reserved for Gandhi himself. Dinyar Patel examines the extraordinary life of this foundational figure in India’s modern political history, a devastating critic of British colonialism who served in Parliament as the first-ever Indian MP, forged ties with anti-imperialists around the world, and established self-rule or swaraj as India’s objective.

Naoroji’s political career evolved in three distinct phases. He began as the activist who formulated the “drain of wealth” theory, which held the British Raj responsible for India’s crippling poverty and devastating famines. His ideas upended conventional wisdom holding that colonialism was beneficial for Indian subjects and put a generation of imperial officials on the defensive. Next, he attempted to influence the British Parliament to institute political reforms. He immersed himself in British politics, forging links with socialists, Irish home rulers, suffragists, and critics of empire. With these allies, Naoroji clinched his landmark election to the House of Commons in 1892, an event noticed by colonial subjects around the world. Finally, in his twilight years he grew disillusioned with parliamentary politics and became more radical. He strengthened his ties with British and European socialists, reached out to American anti-imperialists and Progressives, and fully enunciated his demand for swaraj. Only self-rule, he declared, could remedy the economic ills brought about by British control in India.

Naoroji is the first comprehensive study of the most significant Indian nationalist leader before Gandhi.

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Nether World
Crime and the Police Courts in Victorian London
Drew D. Gray
Reaktion Books, 2024
A new account of urban Victorian life told through the dubious day-to-day of London’s police courts.
 
Nether World presents a rich, often humorous glimpse into everyday life in Victorian London through a revealing account of nineteenth-century police courts. People of all classes brought complaints to this court about those who had hurt, abused, or stolen from them—drunks, pickpockets, wife-beaters, and fraudsters—who were each in their turn judged by magistrates wielding broad summary powers. Delving into underexamined court records and the pages of a fast-developing newspaper industry, Drew D. Gray offers a fresh description of a vibrant, ever-changing metropolis and considers ongoing issues such as poverty, homelessness, violence, substance abuse, prostitution, and—of course—crime.
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The New Prometheans
Faith, Science, and the Supernatural Mind in the Victorian Fin de Siècle
Courtenay Raia
University of Chicago Press, 2019
The Society for Psychical Research was established in 1882 to further the scientific study of consciousness, but it arose in the surf of a larger cultural need. Victorians were on the hunt for self-understanding. Mesmerists, spiritualists, and other romantic seekers roamed sunken landscapes of entrancement, and when psychology was finally ready to confront these altered states, psychical research was adopted as an experimental vanguard. Far from a rejected science, it was a necessary heterodoxy, probing mysteries as diverse as telepathy, hypnosis, and even séance phenomena. Its investigators sought facts far afield of physical laws: evidence of a transcendent, irreducible mind.
 
The New Prometheans traces the evolution of psychical research through the intertwining biographies of four men: chemist Sir William Crookes, depth psychologist Frederic Myers, ether physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, and anthropologist Andrew Lang. All past presidents of the society, these men brought psychical research beyond academic circles and into the public square, making it part of a shared, far-reaching examination of science and society. By layering their papers, textbooks, and lectures with more intimate texts like diaries, letters, and literary compositions, Courtenay Raia returns us to a critical juncture in the history of secularization, the last great gesture of reconciliation between science and sacred truths.
[more]

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Not Made by Slaves
Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition
Bronwen Everill
Harvard University Press, 2020

How abolitionist businesses marshaled intense moral outrage over slavery to shape a new ethics of international commerce.

“East India Sugar Not Made By Slaves.” With these words on a sugar bowl, consumers of the early nineteenth century declared their power to change the global economy. Bronwen Everill examines how abolitionists from Europe to the United States to West Africa used new ideas of supply and demand, consumer credit, and branding to shape an argument for ethical capitalism.

Everill focuses on the everyday economy of the Atlantic world. Antislavery affected business operations, as companies in West Africa, including the British firm Macaulay & Babington and the American partnership of Brown & Ives, developed new tactics in order to make “legitimate” commerce pay. Everill explores how the dilemmas of conducting ethical commerce reshaped the larger moral discourse surrounding production and consumption, influencing how slavery and freedom came to be defined in the market economy. But ethical commerce was not without its ironies; the search for supplies of goods “not made by slaves”—including East India sugar—expanded the reach of colonial empires in the relentless pursuit of cheap but “free” labor.

Not Made by Slaves illuminates the early years of global consumer society, while placing the politics of antislavery firmly in the history of capitalism. It is also a stark reminder that the struggle to ensure fair trade and labor conditions continues.

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Not Made by Slaves
Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition
Bronwen Everill
Harvard University Press

“Impressive…[Readers] will be rewarded with greater understanding of historical developments that changed the relationship between consumers and producers in a global economy in ways that reverberate to this day.”
Wall Street Journal

“Everill repositions West Africa as central to the broader Atlantic story of 18th and 19th century economic morality, its relationship with commercial ethics, and the expansion of capitalism.”
Financial Times

“Offers a penetrating new perspective on abolition in the British Empire by spotlighting a particular cast of characters: the commercial abolitionists in West Africa who fashioned a consumer-focused, business-friendly antislavery ethics. These figures sought to prove the moral and economic superiority of non-slave labor while profiting from the transition away from slavery…Impressive.”
Jacobin

“East India Sugar Not Made By Slaves.” With these words inscribed on a sugar bowl, nineteenth-century consumers were reminded of their power to change the global economy. Determined to strike at the heart of the slave trade, abolitionist businesses throughout the Atlantic used new ideas of supply and demand, consumer credit, and branding to make the case for ethical capitalism.

Consumers became the moral compass of capitalism as companies in West Africa, including Macaulay & Babington and Brown & Ives, developed clever new tactics to make “legitimate” commerce pay. Yet ethical trade was not without its problems. The search for goods “not made by slaves” unwittingly expanded the reach of colonial enterprises in the relentless pursuit of cheap labor. Not Made by Slaves captures the moral dilemmas roiling the early years of global consumer society and is a stark reminder of the unintended consequences of relying on consumer self-interest to transform global capitalism.

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Oscar Wilde
The Unrepentant Years
Nicholas Frankel
Harvard University Press, 2017

Nicholas Frankel presents a new and revisionary account of Wilde’s final years, spent in poverty and exile on the European continent following his release from an English prison for the crime of “gross indecency” between men. Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentant Years challenges the prevailing, traditional view of Wilde as a broken, tragic figure, a martyr to Victorian sexual morality, and shows instead that he pursued his post-prison life with passion, enjoying new liberties while trying to resurrect his literary career.

After two bitter years of solitary confinement, Frankel shows, Wilde emerged from prison in 1897 determined to rebuild his life along lines that were continuous with the path he had followed before his conviction, unapologetic and even defiant about the crime for which he had been convicted. England had already done its worst. In Europe’s more tolerant atmosphere, he could begin to live openly and without hypocrisy.

Frankel overturns previous misunderstandings of Wilde’s relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, the great love of his life, with whom he hoped to live permanently in Naples, following their secret and ill-fated elopement there. He describes how and why the two men were forced apart, as well as Wilde’s subsequent relations with a series of young men. Oscar Wilde pays close attention to Wilde’s final two important works, De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol, while detailing his nearly three-year residence in Paris. There, despite repeated setbacks and open hostility, Wilde attempted to rebuild himself as a man—and a man of letters.

[more]

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Pet Revolution
Animals and the Making of Modern British Life
Jane Hamlett and Julie-Marie Strange
Reaktion Books, 2023
A history of pets and their companions in Britain from the Victorians to today.
 
Pet Revolution tracks the British love affair with pets over the last two centuries. As pets have entered our homes and joined our families, they have radically changed our world. Historians Jane Hamlett and Julie-Marie Strange show how the pet economy exploded—increasing the availability of pet foods, medicines, and shops—and reshaped our modern lives in the process. A history of pets and their human companions, this book reimagines the “pet revolution” as one among many other revolutions—industrial, agricultural, and political—that made possible contemporary life.
 
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Providing for the Poor
The Old Poor Law, 1750-1834
Edited by Peter Collinge and Louise Falcini
University of London Press, 2022
A history of the Old Poor Law, which was the primary support for the poor in England and Wales from 1601 to 1834.
 
The Old Poor Law, which was established in 1601 in England and Wales and was in force until 1834, was administered by the local parish and dispensed goods and services to paupers, providing a uniquely comprehensive, premodern system of support for the poor. Providing for the Poor brings together academics and practitioners from across disciplines to reexamine the micropolitics of poverty in the long eighteenth century through the eyes of the poor, their providers, and enablers. Covering such topics as the providence of the parochial sixpence, which was given in order to get a beggar to move along to another parish, to coercive marriages, plebeian clothing, and the much broader implications of vagrancy toward the end of the long eighteenth century, this volume aims to bridge the gaps in our understanding of the experiences of people across the social spectrum whose lives were touched by the Old Poor Law. It brings together some of the wider arguments concerning the nature of welfare during economically difficult times and documents the rising bureaucracy inherent in the system to produce a radical new history of the Old Poor Law in astonishing detail.
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Reading the Book of Nature
How Eight Best Sellers Reconnected Christianity and the Sciences on the Eve of the Victorian Age
Jonathan R. Topham
University of Chicago Press, 2022
A powerful reimagining of the world in which a young Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution. 

When Charles Darwin returned to Britain from the Beagle voyage in 1836, the most talked-about scientific books of the day were the Bridgewater Treatises. This series of eight works was funded by a bequest of the last Earl of Bridgewater and written by leading men of science appointed by the president of the Royal Society to explore "the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation." Securing public attention beyond all expectations, the series offered Darwin’s generation a range of approaches to one of the great questions of the age: how to incorporate the newly emerging disciplinary sciences into Britain’s overwhelmingly Christian culture.  
  
Drawing on a wealth of archival and published sources, including many unexplored by historians, Jonathan R. Topham examines how and to what extent the series contributed to a sense of congruence between Christianity and the sciences in the generation before the fabled Victorian conflict between science and religion. Building on the distinctive insights of book history and paying close attention to the production, circulation, and use of the books, Topham offers new perspectives on early Victorian science and the subject of science and religion as a whole.  
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Rebel Footprints
A Guide to Uncovering London's Radical History
David Rosenberg
Pluto Press, 2019
"There is so much that is inspirational in this book, whether the struggles of Jewish tailors in Spitalfields, bakers across the city (who were obliged to work 16-hour shifts in poorly ventilated basements), or the battles against fascism in Cable Street." ― Guardian
 
If you visit London, and you’ve only experienced Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, and The Millennium Wheel, you’ve missed the true essence of London, and its politically-charged, rebellious history. A truly radical response to conservative heritage tours and banal day trips, Rebel Footprints brings to life the history of social movements in England's capital by providing lively commentary, maps, and walking tours you will not find anywhere else.
 
David Rosenberg transports readers from well-known landmarks to history-making hidden corners, while telling the story of protest and struggle in London from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.
 
From the suffragettes to the socialists, from the chartists to the trade unionists: Rosenberg invites us to step into the footprints of a diverse cast of dedicated fighters for social justice. Individual chapters highlight particular struggles and their participants, from famous faces to lesser-known luminaries. Chapters include:
 
*Writers and Rioters in the Fleet Street Precinct
*Trailblazers for Democracy in Clerkenwell Green
*The Spark of Rebellion in Bow
*Coming in from the Cold: Immigrant Agitators and Radicals in Spitalfields
*No Gods, No Masters: Radical Bloomsbury
*Life on the Boundary: Fighting for Housing in Bethnal Green and Shoreditch

*Stirrings from the South: The Battersea Four
*peaking Truth to Power: Suffragettes and Westminster
*Not Afraid of the Prison Walls: Rebel Women and Men of Poplar
*People's Power in Bermondsey

 
Rebel Footprints sets London's radical campaigners against the backdrop of the city's multi-faceted development. Self-directed walks pair with narratives that seamlessly blend history, politics, and geography, while specially commissioned maps and illustrations immerse the reader in the story of the city.            
 
Whether you're visiting London for the first time, or born and raised there, Rosenberg invites you to see London as you never have before—the radical center of the English-speaking world.     
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Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema
Ian Christie
University of Chicago Press, 2019
The early years of film were dominated by competition between inventors in America and France, especially Thomas Edison and the Lumière brothers . But while these have generally been considered the foremost pioneers of film, they were not the only crucial figures in its inception. Telling the story of the white-hot years of filmmaking in the 1890s, Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema seeks to restore Robert Paul, Britain’s most important early innovator in film, to his rightful place.
           
From improving upon Edison’s Kinetoscope to cocreating the first movie camera in Britain to building England’s first film studio and launching the country’s motion-picture industry, Paul played a key part in the history of cinema worldwide. It’s not only Paul’s story, however, that historian Ian Christie tells here. Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema also details the race among inventors to develop lucrative technologies and the jumbled culture of patent-snatching, showmanship, and music halls that prevailed in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Both an in-depth biography and a magnificent look at early cinema and fin-de-siècle Britain, Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema is a first-rate cultural history of a fascinating era of global invention, and the revelation of one of its undervalued contributors.
 
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The Science of Character
Human Objecthood and the Ends of Victorian Realism
S. Pearl Brilmyer
University of Chicago Press, 2022
The Science of Character makes a bold new claim for the power of the literary by showing how Victorian novelists used fiction to theorize how character forms.
 
In 1843, the Victorian philosopher John Stuart Mill called for the establishment of a new science, “the science of the formation of character.” Although Mill’s proposal failed as scientific practice, S. Pearl Brilmyer maintains that it found its true home in realist fiction of the period, which employed the literary figure of character to investigate the nature of embodied experience. Bringing to life Mill’s unrealized dream of a science of character, novelists such as George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Olive Schreiner turned to narrative to explore how traits and behaviors in organisms emerge and develop, and how aesthetic features—shapes, colors, and gestures—come to take on cultural meaning through certain categories, such as race and sex. Engaged with materialist science and philosophy, these authors transformed character from the liberal notion of the inner truth of an individual into a materially determined figuration produced through shifts in the boundaries between the body’s inside and outside. In their hands, Brilmyer argues, literature became a science, not in the sense that its claims were falsifiable or even systematically articulated, but in its commitment to uncovering, through a fictional staging of realistic events, the laws governing physical and affective life. The Science of Character redraws late Victorian literary history to show how women and feminist novelists pushed realism to its aesthetic and philosophical limits in the crucial span between 1870 and 1920.
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Science Periodicals in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Constructing Scientific Communities
Edited by Gowan Dawson, Bernard Lightman, Sally Shuttleworth, and Jonathan R. Topham
University of Chicago Press, 2020
Periodicals played a vital role in the developments in science and medicine that transformed nineteenth-century Britain. Proliferating from a mere handful to many hundreds of titles, they catered to audiences ranging from gentlemanly members of metropolitan societies to working-class participants in local natural history clubs. In addition to disseminating authorized scientific discovery, they fostered a sense of collective identity among their geographically dispersed and often socially disparate readers by facilitating the reciprocal interchange of ideas and information. As such, they offer privileged access into the workings of scientific communities in the period.
 
The essays in this volume set the historical exploration of the scientific and medical periodicals of the era on a new footing, examining their precise function and role in the making of nineteenth-century science and enhancing our vision of the shifting communities and practices of science in the period. This radical rethinking of the scientific journal offers a new approach to the reconfiguration of the sciences in nineteenth-century Britain and sheds instructive light on contemporary debates about the purpose, practices, and price of scientific journals.
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Sound Authorities
Scientific and Musical Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Edward J. Gillin
University of Chicago Press, 2021

Sound Authorities shows how experiences of music and sound played a crucial role in nineteenth-century scientific inquiry in Britain.

In Sound Authorities, Edward J. Gillin focuses on hearing and aurality in Victorian Britain, claiming that the development of the natural sciences in this era cannot be understood without attending to the study of sound and music.

During this time, scientific practitioners attempted to fashion themselves as authorities on sonorous phenomena, coming into conflict with traditional musical elites as well as religious bodies. Gillin pays attention to sound in both musical and nonmusical contexts, specifically the cacophony of British industrialization. Sound Authorities begins with the place of acoustics in early nineteenth-century London, examining scientific exhibitions, lectures, spectacles, workshops, laboratories, and showrooms. He goes on to explore how mathematicians mobilized sound in their understanding of natural laws and their vision of a harmonious ordered universe. In closing, Gillin delves into the era’s religious and metaphysical debates over the place of music (and humanity) in nature, the relationship between music and the divine, and the tensions between spiritualist understandings of sound and scientific ones.

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Staying Power
The History of Black People in Britain
Peter Fryer
Pluto Press, 2018
Staying Power is a panoramic history of black Britons. First published in 1984 amid race riots and police brutality, Fryer’s history performed a deeply political act, revealing how Africans, Asians, and their descendants had been erased from British history.
            Stretching back to the Roman conquest, encompassing the court of Henry VIII, and following a host of characters from the pioneering nurse and war hero Mary Seacole to the abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, Peter Fryer paints a picture of two thousand years of black presence in Britain. By rewriting black Britons into British history, showing where they influenced political traditions, social institutions, and cultural life, Staying Power presented a radical challenge to racist and nationalist agendas. This edition includes a new foreword by Gary Younge examining the book’s continued significance in shaping black British identity today, alongside the now-classic introduction by Paul Gilroy.
 
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Textile Orientalisms
Cashmere and Paisley Shawls in British Literature and Culture
Suchitra Choudhury
Ohio University Press, 2023

The first major study of Cashmere and Paisley shawls in nineteenth-century British literature, this book shows how they came to represent both high fashion and the British Empire.

During the late eighteenth century, Cashmere shawls from the Indian subcontinent began arriving in Britain. At first, these luxury goods were tokens of wealth and prestige. Subsequently, affordable copies known as “Paisley” shawls were mass-produced in British factories, most notably in the Scottish town of the same name. Textile Orientalisms is the first full-length study of these shawls in British literature of the extended nineteenth century. Attentive to the juxtaposition of objects and their descriptions, the book analyzes the British obsession with Indian shawls through a convergence of postcolonial, literary, and cultural theories.

Surveying a wide range of materials—plays, poems, satires, novels, advertisements, and archival sources—Suchitra Choudhury argues that while Cashmere and Paisley shawls were popular accoutrements in Romantic and Victorian Britain, their significance was not limited to fashion. Instead, as visible symbols of British expansion, for many imaginative writers they emerged as metaphorical sites reflecting the pleasures and anxieties of the empire. Attentive to new theorizations of history, fashion, colonialism, and gender, the book offers innovative readings of works by Sir Walter Scott, Wilkie Collins, William Thackeray, Frederick Niven, and Elizabeth Inchbald. In determining a key status for shawls in nineteenth-century literature, Textile Orientalisms reformulates the place of fashion and textiles in imperial studies.

The book’s distinction rests primarily on three accounts. First, in presenting an original and extended discussion of Cashmere and Paisley shawls, Choudhury offers a new way of interpreting the British Empire. Second, by tracing how shawls represented the social and imperial experience, she argues for an associative link between popular consumption and the domestic experience of colonialism on the one hand and a broader evocation of texts and textiles on the other. Finally, discussions about global objects during the Victorian period tend to overlook that imperial Britain not only imported goods but also produced their copies and imitations on an industrial scale. By identifying the corporeal tropes of authenticity and imitation that lay at the heart of nineteenth-century imaginative production, Choudhury’s work points to a new direction in critical studies.

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Time Travelers
Victorian Encounters with Time and History
Edited by Adelene Buckland and Sadiah Qureshi
University of Chicago Press, 2020
The Victorians, perhaps more than any Britons before them, were diggers and sifters of the past. Though they were not the first to be fascinated by history, the intensity and range of their preoccupations with the past were unprecedented and of lasting importance. The Victorians paved the way for our modern disciplines, discovered the primeval monsters we now call the dinosaurs, and built many of Britain’s most important national museums and galleries. To a large degree, they created the perceptual frameworks through which we continue to understand the past.
 
Out of their discoveries, new histories emerged, giving rise to fresh debates, while seemingly well-known histories were thrown into confusion by novel tools and methods of scrutiny. If in the eighteenth century the study of the past had been the province of a handful of elites, new technologies and economic development in the nineteenth century meant that the past, in all its brilliant detail, was for the first time the property of the many, not the few. Time Travelers is a book about the myriad ways in which Victorians approached the past, offering a vivid picture of the Victorian world and its historical obsessions.
 
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The Transatlantic Materials of American Literature
Publishing US Writing in Britain, 1830–1860
Katie McGettigan
University of Massachusetts Press, 2023

During the antebellum period, British publishers increasingly brought out their own authorized and unauthorized editions of American literary works as the popularity of print exploded and literacy rates grew. Playing a formative role in the shaping of American literature, the industry championed the work of US-based writers, highlighted the cultural value of American literary works, and intervened in debates about the future of American literature, authorship, and print culture.

The Transatlantic Materials of American Literature examines the British editions of American fiction, poetry, essays, and autobiographies from writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Hannah Flagg Gould. Putting these publications into historical context, Katie McGettigan considers key issues of the day, including developments in copyright law, changing print technologies, and the financial considerations at play for authors and publishers. This innovative study also uncovers how the transatlantic circulation of these works exposed the racial violence and cultural nationalism at the heart of the American experiment, producing overlapping and competing visions of American nationhood in the process.

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Transatlantic Women
Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers and Great Britain
Beth L. Lueck
University of New Hampshire Press, 2012
In this volume, fifteen scholars from diverse backgrounds analyze American women writers’ transatlantic exchanges in the nineteenth century. They show how women writers (and often their publications) traveled to create or reinforce professional networks and identities, to escape strictures on women and African Americans, to promote reform, to improve their health, to understand the workings of other nations, and to pursue cultural and aesthetic education. Presenting new material about women writers’ literary friendships, travels, reception and readership, and influences, the volume offers new frameworks for thinking about transatlantic literary studies.
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The Victoria History of Essex
Harwich, Dovercourt and Parkeston in the 19th Century
Andrew Senter Andrew Morrell
University of London Press, 2019
Exploring the changing character of Harwich, Dovercourt and Parkeston through the course of the 19th century, included in this book is the economic, social and political history of the borough. The book provides an overview of the development of areas such as education, religion, public health with a strong focus on Harwich’s maritime history. The borough of Harwich, including the parish of Dovercourt, lies in the far north east corner of Essex. Its coastal location as a natural harbour at the mouth of the Orwell river dictated that Harwich had a prominent role as a port and naval base from the 14th century onwards. In the 19th century Harwich retained its military function, particularly during the Napoleonic and Crimean wars. The port declined economically as a result of losing the continental packet service in the 1830s, but it was rejuvenated by the opening of the railway in 1854. Dovercourt grew as a residential area and seaside resort in the second half of the 19th century, although the rest of the parish retained much of its traditional agricultural character. The opening of the port at nearby Parkeston in 1883 led to a rapid growth in both passenger traffic and trade to and from the continent.
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Victorian Interdisciplinarity and the Sciences
Rethinking the Specialization Thesis
Efram Sera-Shriar
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2024
The specialization thesis—the idea that nineteenth-century science fragmented into separate forms of knowledge that led to the creation of modern disciplines—has played an integral role in the way historians have described the changing disciplinary map of nineteenth-century British science. This volume critically reevaluates this dominant narrative in the historiography. While new disciplines did emerge during the nineteenth century, the intellectual landscape was far muddier, and in many cases new forms of specialist knowledge continued to cross boundaries while integrating ideas from other areas of study. Through a history of Victorian interdisciplinarity, this volume offers a more complicated and innovative analysis of discipline formation. Harnessing the techniques of cultural and intellectual history, studies of visual culture, Victorian studies, and literary studies, contributors break out of subject-based silos, exposing the tension between the rhetorical push for specialization and the actual practice of knowledge sharing across disciplines during the nineteenth century. 
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The Wardian Case
How a Simple Box Moved Plants and Changed the World
Luke Keogh
University of Chicago Press, 2020
The story of a nineteenth-century invention (essentially a tiny greenhouse) that allowed for the first time the movement of plants around the world, feeding new agricultural industries, the commercial nursery trade, botanic and private gardens, invasive species, imperialism, and more.

Roses, jasmine, fuchsia, chrysanthemums, and rhododendrons bloom in gardens across the world, and yet many of the most common varieties have roots in Asia. How is this global flowering possible? In 1829, surgeon and amateur naturalist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward placed soil, dried leaves, and the pupa of a sphinx moth into a sealed glass bottle, intending to observe the moth hatch. But when a fern and meadow grass sprouted from the soil, he accidentally discovered that plants enclosed in glass containers could survive for long periods without watering. After four years of experimentation in his London home, Ward created traveling glazed cases that would be able to transport plants around the world. Following a test run from London to Sydney, Ward was proven correct: the Wardian case was born, and the botanical makeup of the world’s flora was forever changed.
 
In our technologically advanced and globalized contemporary world, it is easy to forget that not long ago it was extremely difficult to transfer plants from place to place, as they often died from mishandling, cold weather, and ocean salt spray. In this first book on the Wardian case, Luke Keogh leads us across centuries and seas to show that Ward’s invention spurred a revolution in the movement of plants—and that many of the repercussions of that revolution are still with us, from new industries to invasive plant species. From the early days of rubber, banana, tea, and cinchona cultivation—the last used in the production of the malaria drug quinine—to the collecting of beautiful and exotic flora like orchids in the first great greenhouses of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, and England’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Wardian case transformed the world’s plant communities, fueled the commercial nursery trade and late nineteenth-century imperialism, and forever altered the global environment.
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When the Air Became Important
A Social History of the New England and Lancashire Textile Industries
Janet Greenlees
Rutgers University Press, 2019
In When the Air Became Important, medical historian Janet Greenlees examines the working environments of the heartlands of the British and American cotton textile industries from the nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries. Greenlees contends that the air quality within these pioneering workplaces was a key contributor to the health of the wider communities of which they were a part. Such enclosed environments, where large numbers of people labored in close quarters, were ideal settings for the rapid spread of diseases including tuberculosis, bronchitis and pneumonia. When workers left the factories for home, these diseases were transmitted throughout the local population, yet operatives also brought diseases into the factory. Other aerial hazards common to both the community and workplace included poor ventilation and noise. Emphasizing the importance of the peculiarities of place as well as employers’ balance of workers’ health against manufacturing needs, Greenlees’s pioneering book sheds light on the roots of contemporary environmentalism and occupational health reform. Her work highlights the complicated relationships among local business, local and national politics of health, and community priorities.
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William Whewell
Victorian Polymath
Lukas M. Verburgt
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2024
William Whewell, the famous master of Trinity College in Cambridge, was a central figure in nineteenth-century British scientific culture and one of the last great polymaths. His influential work ranged from history and philosophy of science, education, architecture, mineralogy, and political economy to mathematics, engineering, natural theology, metaphysics, and moral philosophy. Among his many gifts to science was his role as cofounder and president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and his wordsmithing; he coined the terms scientist, physicist, linguistics, and electrode. While he was himself an opponent of evolution through natural selection, Whewell’s most famous works, including his Bridgewater Treatise (1833) and Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), played a formative role in Charles Darwin’s creation of the theory of evolution. William Whewell: Victorian Polymath reexamines the whole of Whewell’s oeuvre, as well as the wide range and internal unity of his many polymathic endeavors, placing him within the early Victorian intellectual landscape and highlighting his exchanges with other important figures of the period, such as John Herschel, Charles Lyell, and Robert Peel. Bringing together a group of eminent and emergent scholars, the volume explores all major aspects of Whewell’s reform project and its legacy, both in the sciences and the humanities, in the Victorian era and beyond.   
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Worthy of Freedom
Indenture and Free Labor in the Era of Emancipation
Jonathan Connolly
University of Chicago Press, 2024
A study of Indian indentured labor in Mauritius, British Guiana, and Trinidad that explores the history of indenture’s normalization.
 
In this book, historian Jonathan Connolly traces the normalization of indenture from its controversial beginnings to its widespread adoption across the British Empire during the nineteenth century. Initially viewed as a covert revival of slavery, indenture caused a scandal in Britain and India. But over time, economic conflict in the colonies altered public perceptions of indenture, now increasingly viewed as a legitimate form of free labor and a means of preserving the promise of abolition. Connolly explains how the large-scale, state-sponsored migration of Indian subjects to work on sugar plantations across Mauritius, British Guiana, and Trinidad transformed both the notion of post-slavery free labor and the political economy of emancipation.
 
Excavating legal and public debates and tracing practical applications of the law, Connolly carefully reconstructs how the categories of free and unfree labor were made and remade to suit the interests of capital and empire, showing that emancipation was not simply a triumphal event but, rather, a deeply contested process. In so doing, he advances an original interpretation of how indenture changed the meaning of “freedom” in a post-abolition world.
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