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Victorian Era Books Time Capsule. Danielle Gunkel Apex 6 See Background information in Speaker Notes below. Domestic Advice

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Victorian era books time capsule

Victorian Era Books Time Capsule

Danielle Gunkel Apex 6

See Background information in Speaker Notes below

Victorian era books time capsule

Domestic Advice

It is certainly the first duty of a wife and mother to make home the pleasantest and happiest spot on earth for the members of her family, and to do this requires more than order, system, immaculate clealiness….it requires home-making (pp.6).

This work demonstrates the mindset of the private, female sphere of the home serving as a sanctuary from the public, male sphere. With an expanding middle class this division became more pronounced during the Victorian period with more households financially able to devote the wife’s time and efforts toward home-making. Previously such a luxury would have been out of reach of the lower class, and the time and effort for such would have been the responsibility of servants for the upper class, therefore books guiding women on how to attend to domestic activities and enrich their lives and the lives of their families became very common.

Dainty Work for Pleasure and ProfitAddie E. HeronChicago: Danks, 1891Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule


Although the Victorian era witnessed in particular the rise and expansion of novels and periodicals, poetry continued to be a popular type of literature. One of the most famous Victorian poets was Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her most famous work is this one, first published in 1850 in Poems in Two Volumes.

“For the Victorian reader, the sonnets were the epitome of appropriate poetry for women to write because they showed a woman in her best role – loving and expressing sentiments of love” (Wall). Although without a wonderful reception upon initial publication, Barrett Browning “attained sainthood not just as a poet but also as a wife – based on the love story told” through these sonnets (Wall).

Sonnets from the PortugueseElizabeth Barrett BrowningPortland, Me: T. B. Mosher, 1898Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule

Science Fiction

The Victorian period was prime for an explosion of science fiction with significant, and rapid technological advancements. H. G. Wells was one of the most influential authors of science fiction during this time, with works that can also be included in the subgenres of scientific romance, steampunk, and even political fiction, since politics were often a theme in his works.

The Time MachineH. G. WellsLondon: William Heinemann, 1895Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule

Sensation Fiction

The Victorian period saw the creation of a new type of fiction, the sensation novel, as described in 1863 by H. L. Mansel as “preaching to the nerves instead of the judgment” (Allingham). In addition to the many factors that helped increase fiction literature in general during this time, the sensation novel was also helped by journalism that covered crime, trials, and personal misfortune in a melodramatic manner.

Although there were many sensation writers, Wilkie Collins is considered to be the father of this subgenre and this his first work in it.

Woman in White. A Novel.Wilkie CollinsNew York: Harper & Brothers, 1860Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule

Serial Fiction

Dickens published many novels via periodicals, a common means of financially supporting oneself as an author during the Victorian era when demand for serial publications was high.

Like many novels during this time this book has a social commentary, in this case on child labor and the treatment of orphans.

Oliver TwistCharles DickensLondon: Richard Bentley, 1838Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule


Scientific works had long been published but especially so during the Victorian era when the general public was also apt to read such works and scientific research was expanding. Darwin specifically wrote this book for the public rather than just publishing it aimed at scientific scholars. It sparked immediate religious, political, and scientific controversy.

Throughout this period science was often used to promulgate or deny commonly held beliefs and principles, especially for racial lineages as they may relate to enslaving a people. Darwin should be considered in this context as some turned to his evolutionary theory to justify slavery, although in his Descent of Man he argues against this.

On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.Charles DarwinLondon: John Murray, 1859Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule

Children’s Literature

Unlike previous time periods, the idea of childhood began to change during the Victorian era with the expansion of the middle class. While previously common for children to be treated similar to adults and “exposed to the hardships and responsibilities of adult life” the Victorians believed that childhood should be “of innocence and dependence” (B. C. Protestant Orphans’ Home). Although not particularly well received initially, Carroll’s works were considered to be great contributions to children’s literature by the end of the Victorian era.

Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandLewis CarrollLondon: Macmillan and Co., 1884Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule

Women Supporting Themselves

This is a significant work to the Victorian era first because it represents the ability for women to write as a way of supporting themselves as Chopin did. Prior to this book her writing had been quite successful.

An additional reason for the importance of this book is the controversy surrounding it’s portrayal of denying social norms and displaying female sensuality. While the Victorian era was particularly concerned with morals and proper social decorum, it was also a time when many were challenging these “rules.”

The AwakeningKate ChopinChicago: H. Stone, 1899Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule

Social Fiction

Novels with a clear social commentary were popular during the Victorian era. Topics included labor, slavery, injustices to Native Americans, and gender equality among other things. The 19th century saw many changes which prompted writing about social issues such as slavery, the Civil War, emancipation, forced Native American displacement, factory work, unsafe work environments, female education, etc.

For a time greatly concerned about moral living, this novel exposed the immoral conditions forced upon African-American families and their difficult lives. Not only is it important as a work of Victorian social fiction, but it is also the first novel published by an African American.

Clotel; or The President’s Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United StatesWilliam Wells BrownLondon: Partridge & Oakey, 1853Image Retrieved from:

Victorian era books time capsule

Travel Narrative

With the rapid expansion of modes of transportation such as railways, an increasing middle class able to afford to travel, British imperialism that “brought exotic locales and non-Western cultures ever closer to home,” and advances in technology such as photography and film that could capture images of these distant places, accounts of travel became very popular during the Victorian period (Felluga).

This book, “Twain’s best-selling work during his lifetime” is a compilation of the letters he wrote while travelling through Europe and the Holy Land first published in 1869 (The Business of Being Mark Twain).

The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ ProgressMark TwainConnecticut: American Publishing Company, 1884Image Retrieved from:

Works cited

Allingham, P. The Victorian Sensation Novel, 1860-1880 – “preaching to the nerves instead of the judgment”. Retrieved from

B. C. Protestant Orphan’s Home. Victorian Concepts of Childhood. Retrieved from:

The Business of Being Mark Twain. Sold By Subscription Only. Retrieved from:

Feluga. (2010). CFP: Travel in the Nineteenth Century: Narratives, Histories, and Collections (2/15, 7/14-7/15/2011). Retrieved from:

Wall, J. K. Love and Marriage: How Biographical Interpretation affected the Reception of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese” (1850). Retrieved from:

Works Cited