The Victoria era, namely the one that encompassed the 19th century, was a time that couldn’t be more different to the era we’re in at the moment. The Victorians were well known for their excess, their love of the aristocracy, and the beginnings of Capitalism through the rise of the Industrial Revolution.
But it was also a time of great artists, artists that released work so influential that they changed the course of history forever. From the theories of evolution to the modern notions of romance and courtship, this was the beginning of a time where people were more easily to offer their creations to the public, and because of it, we were gifted with some of the best novels of all time.
Released in 1847, this is a title that most high school goers would know, as it’s been a staple in schools around the world for the better part of the last 100 years. It revolves around Jane Eye’s relation with a Mr Rochester, a man surrounded by mysteries, particularly ones regarding his first wife, Bertha. This is arguably a prime example of the Gothic themes that permeated the time and is considered as a true romantic classic.
Similar to the above entry, Wuthering Heights is a novel that can be found as part of the common high school curriculum, but it’s also regarded as one of the greatest books of its time. The only widely read novel written by William Makepeace Thackeray, the story follows the exploits of Becky Sharp during the period of the Napoleonic Wars
Robinson Crusoe is an extremely popular book that has gained a massive following since it was released almost 300 years ago and is still widely read across the world. Created by Daniel Defoe, this adventure centres around Robinson, who travels out into the ocean against the wishes of his father. It doesn’t take long for him to be shipwrecked on an island that inhabited by cannibals and pirates, and he finds himself fighting for his life more than a few times, making our lives of television and great gaming guides seem safer in comparison. It’s a great read, and truly envelopes the adventurous spirit of the British during the period.
The Theory of Evolution
While it remains a contentious book to this day, The Theory of Evolution is nonetheless an extremely important part of the scientific world, and many regard it as the literature that first sparked our fascination with approaching the natural world in a scientific way. Charles Darwin’s theories on natural selection and the origins of life directly contrasted the many religious views that the world has held for thousands of years, leading to the aforementioned contention. Despite this, there’s no denying how important his research was to the world of science, and how it gave us a clearer picture of where we came from, as well as the history of life overall.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the best books from the Victorian era, but it’s a good start for anyone looking for interesting, historic literature.