An Analysis of Genius in Victorian Literature

British literature flourished during Queen Victoria’s reign. Part of the romantic period of the arts, Victorian Literature has some of the most recognized household names in modern literature. Just as Her Majesty was the epitome of high morality according to society, Victorian novels’ characters sought to overcome their flaws and become morally irreproachable. In other words, the works produced at this point in time, promoted hard work and perseverance to get out of sticky or less than ideal lives and situations and achieve love and virtue.

British Representatives

Among the most recognized names in this literary movement are:

Charles Dickens, who dominated the first part of Victoria’s reign. Some of his best known novels are: Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. Throughout his career, his writing became darker and darker, following the general trend other authors followed during the century.

Another set of especially skilled and recognized authors, are the Brontë sisters. Being women, Anne, Charlotte and Emily produced fewer pieces than their male counterparts, however, at the time, these were revolutionary as they narrated romance, strife and life in general from a woman’s perspective.

Furthermore, one of Emily Brontë’s novels, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, is considered one of the first reasonable feminist novels, where a woman leaves her husband due to the abuse he subjects her to during his alcohol induced rages and starts a new life on her own with their son, a scandalous idea since British law forbade a woman from leaving her husband.

Oscar Wilde, whose most prominent novels include: The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

R. L. Stevenson and Lewis Carroll are also exponents in this period, both with a children and adult following of their work.

Non-British Representatives

Even though Victorian literature was a British phenomenon, due to Great Britain’s influence over the rest of the world, particularly English-speaking countries, it did not remain contained in England. This Romanticism originated and induced style spread out into Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and India (and other British colonies).

Examples of authors who wrote in Victorian style outside of the U.K.’s borders are: Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin and an abolitionist during the American Civil War. Herman Melville, whose most recognized piece is Moby-Dick. Mark Twain, author of both, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Emily Dickinson, who is a prominent name in American poetry and Thomas Bracken a New Zealand based author.

Whether because of the values they promote, aside from being well-written for the style and literary time or due to their continued popularity, to this day, books from the Victorian Era continue to be read and required as basic education.