The novel 1780-1832

From Gothic terror to the everyday lives of the Georgian gentry, how did the novels of this period reflect the political, social and cultural contexts in which they were written?
Female education, reading and Jane Austen

Female education, reading and Jane Austen

Article by:
Kathryn Sutherland

The late 18th and early 19th centuries saw fierce debates about the nature and purpose of women’s education. Professor Kathryn Sutherland assesses these debates and describes the education and reading practices of Jane Austen and her female characters.

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The ball in the novels of Jane Austen

The ball in the novels of Jane Austen

Article by:
John Mullan

Professor John Mullan explores the protocol and the passion of balls in Jane Austen’s novels.

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Courtship, love and marriage in Jane Austen's novels

Courtship, love and marriage in Jane Austen's novels

Article by:
John Mullan

Professor John Mullan explores the romantic, social and economic considerations that precede marriage in the novels of Jane Austen.

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Jane Austen: social realism and the novel

Jane Austen: social realism and the novel

Article by:
Kathryn Sutherland

Jane Austen fills her novels with ordinary people, places and events, in stark contrast to other novels of the time. Professor Kathryn Sutherland considers the function of social realism in Austen’s work.

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Jane Austen and social judgement

Jane Austen and social judgement

Article by:
Kathryn Sutherland

Jane Austen’s characters are continually watching, judging and gossiping about others and, in turn, are watched, judged and gossiped about. Professor Kathryn Sutherland explores the ways in which behaviour and etiquette are closely monitored in the novels, and how characters must learn to be skilful readers of those around them.

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Costumes of the Navy, Army and other occupations

Status, rank and class in Jane Austen's novels

Article by:
John Mullan

Questions of status and class are a major preoccupation of Jane Austen’s characters, and of the novels themselves. Professor John Mullan considers both the importance of social status and its satirical potential.

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Jane Austen’s juvenilia

Jane Austen’s juvenilia

Article by:
Kathryn Sutherland

Professor Kathryn Sutherland explores how Jane Austen’s education and upbringing shaped her childhood writing, and considers the relationship between these early works and her adult novels.

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Mary Shelley, Frankenstein and the Villa Diodati

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein and the Villa Diodati

Article by:
Greg Buzwell

Greg Buzwell describes the bizarre circumstances that gave rise to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the other works that emerged from the ‘ghost story challenge’ at the Villa Diodati in the summer of 1816.

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The science of life and death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

The science of life and death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Article by:
Sharon Ruston

Professor Sharon Ruston surveys the scientific background to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, considering contemporary investigations into resuscitation, galvanism and the possibility of states between life and death.

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Gothic motifs

Gothic motifs

Article by:
John Bowen

What does it mean to say a text is Gothic? Professor John Bowen considers some of the best-known Gothic novels of the late 18th and 19th centuries, exploring the features they have in common, including marginal places, transitional time periods and the use of fear and manipulation.

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The origins of the Gothic

The origins of the Gothic

Article by:
John Mullan

Professor John Mullan examines the origins of the Gothic, explaining how the genre became one of the most popular of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the subsequent integration of Gothic elements into mainstream Victorian fiction.

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Further themes

Romanticism

What inspired the iconic poetry of the Romantic period?

The Gothic

What characterises Gothic literature and what does it reveal about the periods in which it was written?

Childhood and children's literature

Was children’s literature intended to entertain or instruct?

Crime and crime fiction

Why was crime such a popular subject in 19th-century fiction?

The novel 1832 - 1880

How did the iconic writers of this period experiment with fantasy, sensationalism, realism and social commentary?

Fin de siècle

How did the literature of this period reflect attitudes to gender, sexuality, immigration, class and scientific discovery?

Victorian poetry

How did the Victorian poets approach composition, form and language, and what inspired their subjects?

Popular culture

From music hall to pleasure gardens, explore the extraordinary range of entertainments on offer in Georgian and Victorian Britain.

Poverty and the working classes

How did Victorian writers respond to the shocking inequalities of Victorian society?

Power and politics

How did writers respond to the tumultuous political events of this period?

Reading and print culture

How did rising literacy rates, libraries and new technologies influence the literature people read?

Technology and science

How did 19th century authors respond to the new possibilities afforded by technology and science?

The middle classes

How were the tensions surrounding social mobility explored in the literature of the period?

Visions of the future

How did the 19th-century literature reflect contemporary fears of social, political and technological change?

Gender and sexuality

How were gender roles embedded in the literature of the period and were they ever subverted?