Discover 1,200 Romantic and Victorian literary treasures, new insights by 60 experts, 25 documentary films, 30 inspirational teachers’ notes and more. Discovering Literature has been supported since its inception by Dr Naim Dangoor CBE, Dangoor Education.

Featured articles

  • The origins of A Christmas Carol

    The origins of A Christmas Carol

    Professor John Sutherland considers how Dickens’s A Christmas Carol engages with Victorian attitudes towards poverty, labour and the Christmas spirit.

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    Victorian Christmas

    Judith Flanders describes how many of our own Christmas traditions – from trees and crackers to cards and carols – have their origins in 19th-century industrial and commercial interests.

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    Dickens the performer

    Dickens the performer

    Simon Callow CBE examines Dickens as an actor who gave lively and emotional performances of his own works to an enthralled public on both sides of the Atlantic.

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    Ghosts in A Christmas Carol

    Ghosts in A Christmas Carol

    The ghosts in A Christmas Carol are by turns comic, grotesque and allegorical. Professor John Mullan reflects on their essential role in developing the novel’s meaning and structure.

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  • The origins of the Gothic

    The origins of the Gothic

    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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    Oliver Twist: a patchwork of genres

    Dr Claire Wood examines how Dickens blends multiple genres in Oliver Twist, including melodrama, the Gothic, satire and social commentary.

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    An introduction to The Hound of the Baskervilles

    An introduction to The Hound of the Baskervilles

    The Hound of the Baskervilles merges two popular genres, the detective story and the Gothic tale. Here curator Greg Buzwell examines the novel’s depiction of scientific deduction, eerie landscapes and violent ancestry.

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    Jack the Ripper

    Jack the Ripper

    The unidentified killer known as Jack the Ripper murdered a series of women in the Whitechapel area of London during 1888. Judith Flanders explores how the excitement and fear surrounding the mysterious murderer made its way into late-Victorian literature.

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  • An introduction to The Woman in White

    An introduction to The Woman in White

    The Woman in White was the first great sensation novel. Roger Luckhurst considers how Wilkie Collins's intricately plotted novel borrows elements from realist and Gothic fiction, and combines suspense and stimulation.

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    Charles Dickens, Victorian Gothic and Bleak House

    Focussing on Bleak House, Charles Dickens's ninth and longest novel, Greg Buzwell explores how the novelist incorporates and evolves Gothic imagery, settings and plot devices.

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    The figure of Bertha Mason

    The figure of Bertha Mason

    Carol Atherton explores the character of Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre through ideas of the ‘Other’, Charlotte Brontë’s narrative doubling and 19th-century attitudes towards madness and ethnicity.

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    Melding fantasy and realism in Wuthering Heights

    Melding fantasy and realism in Wuthering Heights

    Professor John Bowen explores the intertwined nature of fantasy and realism within Emily Brontë’s novel.

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Themes

From Romantic poetry to Gothic horror, from depictions of poverty and industrialisation to portrayals of the middle classes, and from crime fiction to fin de siècle decadence: the literary works of the Romantic and Victorian periods, and the contexts in which they were written, offer a wealth of topics to explore.

Fin de siècle

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

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The Gothic

The Gothic

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

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Power and politics

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

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Reading and print culture

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

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The novel 1832 - 1880

The novel 1832 - 1880

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

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Childhood and children's literature

Childhood and children's literature

Was children’s literature intended to entertain or instruct?

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Works of literature

A Christmas Carol

Created by: Charles Dickens

A Christmas book by Charles Dickens (1812-1870), published in 1843. Dickens was prompted to write this morality tale ...

Jane Eyre

Created by: Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë’s (1816-1855) iconic novel of 1847 is subtitled ‘An Autobiography’. It is an ...

Frankenstein

Created by: Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1797-1851), later Mary Shelley, devised this Gothic novel in 1816 while staying at Lake ...