Great Expectations Pathfinder
Resources on Life in Victorian England
[Dewey number: 941.081]


 Architecture  Fashion  Criminal justice
 Schools Royal family  Children
 British Empire  Apprentice system  Charles Dickens
Food and cooking  Music and dance  Literature
   Upper classes  
Great Expectations: The Text -
This is a version of the novel which is presented chapter by chapter online.
Victorian Web -
Subtitled "Literature, history & culture in the age of Victoria," this site is the major place on the Web to get information about the Victorian era (1837-1901) in England and the entire world. Categories include: The Victorians; Political history; Social history; Gender matters; Philosophy; Religion; Science; Technology; Genre & Technique (literature); Authors; Visual arts; Theatre & popular entertainment; Victorian Web books; Victorian texts; Before Victoria; and Related WWW resources. Individual pages at this site are referenced below where appropriate.

Victorian architecture

Victorian Architecture -
Page devoted to architectural styles, individual architects and architectural theory of the period.
London Buildings and Monuments illustrated in the Victorian Web -
A list, with links, to pictures of various buildings and other structures found in nineteenth century London.

Victorian fashion

What Victorians Wore -
Pages on the fashions of the period generally as well as specifically on women's, men's, children's, and laboring classes' clothing.

Victorian law and criminal justice system

The Cornhill, Great Expectations, and The Convict System in Nineteenth-Century England -
This is an essay by a college student on the prisons in Dickens' novel. "Charles Dickens's Great Expectations often refers to English prisons and convicts. In The Cornhill Magazine, the article titled "The English Convict System" provides insight into prisons in Victorian England at the time of the book's publication in 1861. The fact that Dickens set Great Expectations at least a decade or more before 1861 led me to inquire into the differences of the convict system in 1861 and a decade earlier that may explain the advantages of the earlier system to Dickens's story."
Crime in Victorian Britain: Suggested Readings -
A great bibliography of books and other resources on the criminal justice system in Victorian England.
The Metropolitan Police -
A short article about the history of the London police in the 1820s and 30s.
Reform Acts -
The three Reform Acts, of 1832, 1867, and 1884, all extended voting rights to previously disfranchised citizens. This page explains how the Reform Acts changed the political makeup of Great Britain.

Victorian schools & education

Education in Victorian England -
This page on the Victorian Web gives links to specific topics on education in Victorian England. Links are provided to articles about education in general, public schools (British private schools), and universities.
The Public School Experience in Victorian Literature -
In England private schools are know as "public" schools. "Seven elite boarding schools, Eton, Harrow, Westminster, Rugby, Winchester, Charterhouse, and Shrewsbury, and two London day schools, St. Pauls and Merchant Taylors's, were defined as "Public Schools" in the 1860s by the educational Clarendon commission." This is a short article about those schools with picture and links to other related sites.
Ragged Schools -
Schools for the poorest children, known as "ragged schools," were the forerunner of the government-supported school system in Great Britain.
The Anti-Technological Bias of Victorian Education and Britain's Economic Decline -
Critique of the British public school for its elitist, anti-technological effect on the later state school system.
The 1870 Education Act -
CThe law that established the British "public" public school system for ater state school system.

Children in Victorian England

Child Labor -
Short article, with picture, of child labor conditions during the height of the Industrial Revolution.
Down and Out in Victorian London -
This page from the Masterpiece Theatre site has an essay on poverty and the "Poor Laws." The article is meant to accompany a television dramatization of "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens.
Bastardy and Baby Farming in Victorian England -
This heavily footnoted essay discusses illegitimacy and the raising of children for adoption in 19th century England.
Children in the Mines -
This page provides an introduction to the text of Royal Commission reports of 1842 about conditions in the mining regions of England. The reports themselves are not available online but each report (from the different regions) does have an outline and list of tables and illustrations.
Workhouse Children -
This short article describes conditions in British workhouses and provides links to letters and interviews of people who actually were part of the workhouse system.

British imperialism in the nineteeth century

The British Empire & Commonwealth Museum -
This website, maintained by a museum in Bristol, England, has a useful set of links to such items as a timeline and countries of the Empire and Commonwelath.
Victorian History: The British Empire, an Overview -
Articles accessible from this page include: A Timeline of British History; British Empire: An Introduction; The Industrial Revolution, Textiles, and Empire; Ambivalence, Economy, and Empire in Victorian Britain; Disraeli's Imperial Policies; Why did the British Empire expand so rapidly between 1870 and 1900?; and The Role of the Victorian Army. Links are also provided to individual countries of the Empire and other related resources.
The Imperial Archive -
"This site provides information for all those interested in the influence of the British imperial process on literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Using colonial discourse and post-colonial theory as a point of departure, some pages examine the British idea of 'Empire' and the colonial enterprise in a selected range of 19th-century authors and their work; others consider 20th-century texts, in an attempt to understand how imperialism affected literary texts produced in Britain's former colonies. The pages are authored by students working on the MA degree in Modern Literary Studies in the School of English at the Queen's University of Belfast. The site is evolving and will include contributions from future generations of MA students on other writers and themes."

Apprentice system

Apprenticeship --
Although this article is mainly about apprenticeship in the U.S. it does describe the background of the system as practiced in Great Britain. (History of American Education Web Site)
Parish Apprentices --
This is a short paragraph from a site which explains the British "Poor Laws
Apprenticeship --
This article from Wikipedia goes into some detail about the concept and practice of apprenticeship. Most of the article is about current appreticeship programs in the U.K., Germany and France.
Apprenticeship: Past and Present --
This article from a trade union in Michigan explains the history of appreticeship in the U.S. Many of the historical details would also apply in England, especially the early history when the American colonies where still part of Great Britain.
"apprenticeship" & "system" & "britain" Search in Questia -
This link is a search in the Questia database of the terms "appreticeship", "system", and "britain". The resulting page finds thousands of references to books and magazines as well as other types of materials. Questia is a scholarly site which the Library subscribes to. If you are asked to login see the librarian for user name and password.

Life of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens: Google Directory -,_Charles/?tc=1/
The Google directory's list of links about the Victorian author of Great Expectations.
The Life of Charles Dickens -
A book-length bio of the author.
Charles Dickens on the Victorian Web -
Extensive links to information about the author of Great Expectations. (Victorian Web)
David Perdue's Charles Dickens Page -
A very comprehensive website with links to: The novels, Characters, Illustrations, Timeline, Reading Dickens, Dickens' London, Dickens' Christmas, Family & friends, Dickens in America, and Dickens on the Web.

Victorian food and cooking

Adulteration and Contamination of Food in Victorian England -
The contamination and adulteration (addition of foreign substances) of food was rampant in 19th century England. This page explains some of the problems associated with the practices. (Victorian Web)
Victorian Diet -
This short essay explains some of the aspects of diet, especially of the poor, in Victorian England. (Victorian Web)
In the Victorian Kitchen -
This page is an online exhibit of equipment and supplies used in typical Victorian kitchen. Tools are pictured and their uses are described. (California Academy of Sciences)
Food and Drink in Regency England -
Although this site covers food of the period just preceding the Victorian era, nevertheless many of the recipes given here were still being used in Victoria's time and even later. (Personal page)
Food in Bronte and Dickens -
Short essay describing the role of food in the novels of two eminent Victorian writers.

Victorian music and dance

Manners, Culture and Dress of the Best American Society -
Although this is an American website the manner discussed here applied in Victorian England as well. (From a Victorian Dance site.)
What to Wear to Victorian Events -
Although this would be site appropriate to the Victorian fashion section it is also appropriate here because it describes what the proper Victorian ladies and gentlemen wore at their balls.
An Elegant Era: 19th Century Romance -
This page from a dance ensemble website, has a bit of information and pictures about dances of Victorian England. (Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble)

Nineteenth century English literature

19th Century British Literature: Google Directory -
Some 19th century British authors which have links from this page are: Matthew Arnold; Jane Austen; George Lewis Becke; Emily Brontë; Samuel Butler; Wilkie Collins; Charles Dickens (of course); Benjamin Disraeli; George Eliot; George Gissing; Thomas Hardy; James Hogg; E.W. Hornung; Charles Kingsley; Rudyard Kipling; Charles Lamb; Edward Lear; Christina Rossetti; Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Sir Walter Scott; Robert Louis Stevenson; William Makepeace Thackeray; Anthony Trollope; H.G. Wells; and Oscar Wilde.
19th Century British and Irish Authors -
This is page of links to dozens of authors of the era. The over 400 authors are listed in chronological order.

British upper classes

Newman on the Gentleman -
"John Henry Cardinal Newman, the most famous English convert  to Roman Catholicism of the nineteenth century, included the following description of the gentleman in his treatise on university education for Roman Catholics, who had only recently received civil rights."
Social Class -
This article discusses social class but gives scant attention to the upper classes.
Jane Eyre and North and South on Social Class -
This article compares the way social classes are handled by the authors of two novels, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.
Studies in Victorian Culture and Society: Prejudice and Policy -
The description of a course about Victorian society includes a discussion of the role of class distinctions.
The Religious Climate of Victorian England -
This essay is about the religious climate of Great Britain in the 19th century includes discussion of class differences among the clergy and the people.

British royalty from 1776

The Official Website of the British Monarchy -
Start with "page 105," The Hanoverians, the family which took over the British monarchy in 1714 and includes the four King Georges and a William. They reigned until 1837 when Victoria assumed the throne. Under "Choose an option" at the top of the page explore George III, George IV, and William IV to cover the period in the assignment. For Victoria's reign click on "Saxe-Coberg-Gotha" or "Next monarch."

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©TUHSD Tom Kaun, Library Media Teacher -- The Bessie Chin Library @ Redwood High School, 395 Doherty Drive, Larkspur, CA 94939 -- 415.945.3662