Explorations 11: Victorian Authors

The Victorian Era produced some of the greatest literature the world has ever had the pleasure to read. Any list of the greatest books ever written always contains, or should, Dickens, Bronte, Eliot, and Conrad, who was Polish but wrote in English from England, with an occasional inclusion of Wilde, Hardy, Wells, Trollop, and Stevenson. Bibliophiles would not forget to include Stroker, Barrie, Thackeray, Butler (everyone should read the poorly titled ‘The Way of All Flesh’), and Carroll. Stretching the definition of Victorian, one could bring in the Russians Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, Americans Twain, Poe, Cooper, and Melville along with the French authors Hugo, Flaubert, and Dumas.

Victorian literature is loosely defined as being written during the reign of Queen Victoria who ruled over the United Kingdom and Ireland for 63 years from 1837 to 1901, parenthetically, a reign exceeded in longevity only by Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne. The Victorian Era was bookended by the Industrial Revolution which ended around the 1840s and the beginning of the Technological Revolution that began in the 1870s and continued to the start of WWI. The era witnessed the beginning of the end of the labor intensive agricultural and mining sectors, with a subsequent weakening of the guild and manor systems. The hermetic British class system also sustained a permanent leak with the advent of a true middle class brought about by an unconstrained rise in economic fortunes and personal incomes.

All this brought about a renegotiation and a realignment of the social structures in place since the time of the pharaohs. Serfs and slavery gave way to agricultural innovations and the introduction of a managerial class in business. The existing economic and social fabrics were torn asunder with the way forward less than clear, but the status quo would not endure for long. The ensuing social upheaval provided a bonaza of topics and plots for the Victorian Era authors. Dickens wrote about poverty and children, Hardy plotted about morality and money, Trollop’s novels took on class and money, Emily Bronte took on immorality, class, and money, and Thackeray discussed hypocrisy. None of the subjects the authors approached were exclusive to their times, but in the Victorian age contrasts had sharp edges. Victorian times were either-or with little in between. Grey was tea, which incidentally dates to the Victorian Era.

Apologies for the preamble to this post which was meant to be just a listing of Victorian authors but somehow, I digressed into a brief discussion of 19th century all things British. The following table is a composite of other lists and sources dealing with Victorian authors, whether prose, poetry, or plays, fiction or non-fiction. The table below initially had additional information about the authors, but WordPress does not give the space needed to display them so squeeze the sides of table I did. Also, I initially was listing all authors, regardless of nationality, within the Victorian Era but that grew too large for web page. Finally, the “Best Sellers” column is subjective in that it may be the critics’ choice, or it may be based on current sales, and sometimes it’s just what I liked the most. As an example, the critics always list ‘Great Expectations’ or ‘The Tale of Two Cities’ as his best but I’ve always preferred ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘A Christmas Carole’ which led me to list ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘A Christmas Carole’.

NameNationalityBornDied“Best Sellers” 
Ainsworth, William HarrisonEnglish18051882Windsor Castle
Arnold, MatthewEnglish18221888The Scholar Gipsy
Bagehot, WalterEnglish18261877The Economist
Ballantyne, Robert MichaelScottish18251894The Coral Island
Barlas, JohnScottish18601914Bloody Heart – Phantasmagoria
Barr, AmeliaEnglish18311919Remember the Alamo
Barrie, J.M.Scottish18601937Peter Pan
Beerbohm, MaxEnglish18721956Zuleika Dobson
Benson, A.C.English18621925Basil Netherby
Besant, WalterEnglish18361901All in a Garden Fair
Blackmore, R.D.English18251900Lorna Doone
Blunt, Wilfred ScawenEnglish18401922The Dream King: Ludwig II of Bavaria
Boucicault, DionIrish18201890The Bastile
Braddon, Mary ElizabethEnglish18351915Lady Audley’s Secret
Bradley, EdwardEnglish18271889The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green
Bray, Anna ElizaEnglish17901883Trelawneys of Trelawne
Brontë, AnneEnglish18201849Agnes Grey
Bronte, CharlotteEnglish18161855Jane Eyre
Bronte, EmilyEnglish18181848Wuthering Heights
Browning, Elizabeth BarrettEnglish18061861A Drama of Exile
Browning, RobertEnglish18121889The Ring and the Book
Buchanan, RobertScottish18411901The Shadow of the Sword
Bulwer-Lytton, Sir EdwardEnglish18031873England and the English
Burney, FrancesEnglish17521840Evelina
Butler, SamuelEnglish18351902Erewhon – The Way of All Flesh
Caine, HallEnglish18531931The Blind Mother – The Last Confession
Caird, MonaEnglish18541932The Wing of Azrael
Carlyle, ThomasScottish17951881Sartor Resartus
Carroll, LewisEnglish18321898Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Chesterton, G.K.English18741936Father Brown – The Man Who was Thrusday
Clare, JohnEnglish17931864The Shepherds Calendar
Clough, Arthur HughEnglish18191861The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich
Coleridge, MaryEnglish18611907The Lady on the Drawingroom Floor
Collins, WilkieEnglish18241889The Woman in White – The Moonstone
Conrad, JosephPolish18571924Heart of Darkness – Lord Jim
Corelli, MarieEnglish18551924The Romance of Two Worlds
Corvo, BaronEnglish18601913Hadrian the Seventh
Craik, Dinah MulockEnglish18261887John Halifax, Gentleman
Darwin, CharlesEnglish18091882On the Orgin of Species
Davies, W.H.English18711940The Autobiography of a Super-tramp
Dickens, CharlesEnglish18121870A Christmas Carol – Great Expectations
Disraeli, BenjaminEnglish18041881Sybil; or, the Two Nations
Dobell, BertramEnglish18421914The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne
Dowson, ErnestEnglish18671900Vitae Summa Brevis (Days of Wine and Roses)
Doyle, Sir Arthur ConanEnglish18591930Sherlock Holmes
Dunsany, LordIrish18781957A Dreamers Tale
Eliot, GeorgeEnglish18191880Middlemarch
Ewing, Juliana HoratiaEnglish18411885Christmas Crakers and other Christmas Stories
Farningham, MarianneEnglish18341909Girlhood – Brothers and Sisters
Farrar, Frederic WilliamEnglish18311903Life of Christ
Gaskell, ElizabethEnglish18101865North and South – Ghost Stories
Gilbert, William SchwenckEnglish18361911H.M.S. Pinafore – The Pirates of Penzance
Gilchrist, Robert MurrayEnglish18671917The Stone Dragon and Other Tragic Romances
Gissing, GeorgeEnglish18571903The Nether World
Gore, CatherineEnglish17981861Manners of the Day
Gosse, EdmundEnglish18491928Father and Son
Gosse, PhilipEnglish18101888A Naturalist’s Rambles on Devonshire Coast
Grossmith, GeorgeEnglish18471912The Diary of a Nobody
Haggard, H. RiderEnglish18561925King Solomon’s Mines
Hallam, Arthur HenryEnglish18111833The Poems of Arthur Henry Hallam
Hardy, ThomasEnglish18401928The Mayor of Casterbridge
Harkness, MargaretEnglish18541923Assyrian Life and History
Helps, Sir ArthurEnglish18131875Leaves from the Journal of Our Life
Hemans, FeliciaEnglish17931835Casabianca – Coeur De Lion at the Bier
Henley, William ErnestEnglish18491903Invictus
Hood, ThomasEnglish17991845The Bridge of Sighs – The Song of the Shirt
Hopkins, Gerard ManleyEnglish18441889Binsey Poplars
Hornung, E.W.English18661921Raffles Stories
Housman, A.E.English18591936The Collected Poems of A.E. Housman
Housman, LaurenceEnglish18651959The Field of Clover
Howitt, MaryEnglish17991888The Spider and the Fly
Howitt, WilliamEnglish17921879The History of the Supernatural
Hubback, CatherineEnglish18181877The Younger Sister
Hughes, ThomasEnglish18221896Tom Brown School Days
Huxley, Thomas HenryEnglish18251895Man’s Place in Nature
James, M.R.English18621936Ghost Stories
Jefferies, RichardEnglish18481887The Story of My Heart
Jennings, LouisEnglish18361893Mr. Gladstone
Jerome, JeromeEnglish18591927Three Men in a Boat
Jerrold, Douglas WilliamEnglish18031857Black-Eyed Susan
Jewsbury, GeraldineEnglish18121880The Half-Sisters
Kingsley, CharlesEnglish18191875Westward Ho!
Kingston, William Henry GilesEnglish18141880In the Rocky Mountains
Kipling, RudyardEnglish18651936The Jungle Book – Kim
Landon, Letitia ElizabethEnglish18021838The Poetical Works of Miss Landon
Landor, Walter SavageEnglish17751864Imaginary Conversations – Rose Aylmer
Le Fanu, Joseph SheridanIrish18141873Ghost Stories
Lear, EdwardEnglish18121888The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear
Lever, CharlesIrish18061872The Martins of Cro’Martin
Levy, AmyEnglish18611889The Romance of a Shop
Lewes, George HenryEnglish18171878The Spanish Drama
Linton, Eliza LynnEnglish18221898The True History of Joshua Davidson
Macaulay, Thomas BabingtonEnglish18001859Lays of Ancient Rome
MacDonald, GeorgeScottish18241905The Princess and the Goblin
Marryat, Captain FredrickEnglish17921848The Privateersman
Marshall, EmmaEnglish18301899Under Salisbury Spire
Massey, GeraldEnglish18281907Ancient Egypt Light of the World
Maurier, George duFrench18341896Trilby
Mayhew, HenryEnglish18121887London Labour and the London Poor
Melville, George JohnScottish18211878The Queen’s Maries: A Romance of Holyrood
Meredith, GeorgeEnglish18281909The Egoist – Diana of the Crossways
Mill, John StuartEnglish18061873On Liberty
Molesworth, Mary LouisaEnglish18391921The Cuckoo Clock
Moore, GeorgeIrish18521933Esther Waters
Moore, ThomasIrish17791852Minstrel Boy – The Last Rose of Summer
More, HannahEnglish17451833Sorrows of Yamba
Morley, HenryEnglish18221894English Writers
Morris, Francis OrpenEnglish18101893A History of British Butterflies
Morris, WilliamEnglish18341896The Wood Beyond the World
Morrison, ArthurEnglish18631945The Adventures of Martin Hewitt
Newman, John HenryEnglish18011890Apologia Pro Vita Sua
Norton, CarolineEnglish18081877The Sorrows of Rosalie:  A Tale with Other Poems
Oliphant, MargaretScottish18281897Supernatural Collection
Ouida (Maria Louise Ramé)English18391908Under Two Flags – A Dog of Flanders
Pater, WalterEnglish18391894Studies in the History of the Renaissance
Patmore, CoventryEnglish18231896The Angle in the House
Potter, BeatrixEnglish18661943The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Rands, William BrightyEnglish18231882Lilliput Levee
Reade, CharlesEnglish18141884Peg Woffington – Masks and Faces
Reynolds, GeorgeEnglish18141879Wagner the Werewolf – The Necromancer
Rogers, SamuelEnglish17631855Table-Talk and Recollections – Toils and Struggles
Rossetti, ChristinaEnglish18301894Goblin Market
Rossetti, Dante GabrielEnglish18281882The House of Life
Ruskin, JohnEnglish18191900Unto the Last
Scott, Sir WalterScottish17711832Ivanhoe – Waverley
Sewell, AnnaEnglish18201878Black Beauty
Sewell, Elizabeth MissingEnglish18151906The Autobiography of Elizabeth M. Sewell
Sharp, William (Fiona MacLeod)English18551905Poems by William Sharp
Shelley, MaryEnglish17971851Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus
Smiles, SamuelEnglish18121904Self Help
Stephen, LeslieEnglish18321904The Godless Victorian
Stevenson, Robert LouisScottish18501894Treasure Island – …Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Stoker, BramIrish18471912Dracula
Surtees, R.S.English18051864Jorrockss Jaunts and Jollities
Swinburne, Algernon CharlesEnglish18371909Poems and Ballads
Symonds, J.A.English18401893Walt Whitman. A Study
Symons, ArthurEnglish18651945Charles Baudelaire: A Study
Synge, John MillingtonIrish18711909The Playboy of the Western World
Taylor, Philip MeadowsEnglish18081876Confessions of a Thug
Taylor, Sir HenryEnglish18001886The Statesman
Tennyson, Alfred LordEnglish18091892Idylls of the King – Lady of Shalott
Thackeray, WilliamEnglish18111863Vanity Fair
Thomson, JamesScottish18341882The City of Dreadful Night and Other Poems
Tonna, Charlotte ElizabethEnglish17901846The Rockite
Trollope, AnthonyEnglish18151882Doctor Thorne – Barsetshire Novels
Trollope, FrancesEnglish17791863The Widow Barnaby
Ward, Mary AugustaEnglish18511920Robert Elsmere
Wells, H.G.English18661946The Invisible Man – The Time Machine
Wilde, OscarIrish18541900The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, IsaacEnglish18021865On Reserve in Communicating Religious
Wood, EllenEnglish18141887East Lynne
Wratislaw, TheodoreEnglish18711933The Pity of Love
Yeats, W.B.Irish18651939The Tower
Yonge, CharlotteEnglish18231901The Heir to Redclyffe
Zangwill, IsraelEnglish18641926The Big Bow Mystery
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