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, The Exilarch's Foundation.

Featured articles

  • The Brontës' writing process

    The Brontës’ early writings: Combining fantasy and fact

    Professor John Bowen and Ann Dinsdale discuss the fantasy worlds of Gondal and Angria, created by the Brontë children, and the lasting influence of these on the sisters’ later novels. Filmed at the Brontë Parsonage, Haworth.

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    ‘Man is not truly one, but truly two’: duality in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

    Curator Greg Buzwell considers duality in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, exploring how the novel engages with contemporary debates about evolution, degeneration, consciousness, homosexuality and criminal psychology.

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    An introduction to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

    An introduction to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

    Dr Seamus Perry describes the origins of 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and considers how Coleridge uses the poem to explore ideas of sin, suffering and salvation.

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    Exoticism in the 19th century

    Exoticism in 19th-century literature

    Exoticism is concerned with the perception and description of difference, or ‘otherness’. Examining One Thousand and One Nights, Jane Eyre and Heart of Darkness, Dr Julia Kuehn discusses the Victorian fascination with literary depictions of the exotic.

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  • William Blake’s printing process

    William Blake’s printing process

    Michael Phillips demonstrates William Blake’s printing process and explains its significance to his work as a poet and artist. Filmed at Morley College, London.

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    Gothic motifs

    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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    An introduction to 'Goblin Market'

    An introduction to 'Goblin Market'

    In ‘Goblin Market’, Christina Rossetti experiments with language, form and imagery to create a world of temptation and mystery. Dr Dinah Roe considers Rossetti’s influences and the different ways in which the poem has been illustrated and interpreted since its publication.

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    Jane Eyre and the 19th-century woman

    Jane Eyre and the 19th-century woman

    Professor Sally Shuttleworth explores how Charlotte Brontë challenges 19th-century conceptions of appropriate female behaviour through the creation of a heroine who works, demands respect and combines self-control with passion and rebellion.

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  • Class in The Time Machine

    Class in The Time Machine

    Dr Matthew Taunton reveals how The Time Machine reflects H G Wells’s fascination with class division, the effects of capitalism and the evolution of the human race.

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    Street literature

    From public notes and broadsides to catchpennies and printed songs, Dr Ruth Richardson examines the variety of street literature which informed and entertained the public before newspapers were readily available.

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    Lord Byron, 19th-century bad boy

    Lord Byron, 19th-century bad boy

    Clara Drummond explains how Lord Byron’s politics, relationships and views on other poets led to his reputation of 19th-century bad boy.

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    British slave narratives

    British slave narratives

    From the mid-18th century, Africans and people of African descent – many of them former slaves – began to write down their stories. Brycchan Carey describes these writings and assesses their role in the abolition of slavery.

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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

Great Expectations

Created by: Charles Dickens

A novel by Charles Dickens (1812-1870), which first appeared in All the Year Round in 1860–61, and in book ...

'In Memoriam A H H'

Created by: Alfred Lord Tennyson

A poignant tribute to Arthur Henry Hallam, this poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1882) was written between 1833 ...

'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802'

Created by: William Wordsworth

‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802’ is a sonnet by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) ...