Learn Live: Food in 19th-century Literature

Illustration of beer and cake

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  • Full Price: £20.00 Other concessions available

Tasty treats from classic literature

Read the course outline (PDF)

From the Rebecca Sharp’s first encountering of a chilli in William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, to Ebenezer Scrooge’s gift of a Christmas goose in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, to the inedible porridge in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, nineteenth century literature abounds with mentions of food both mouth-watering and mortifying.

In this 90-minute course, we will concern ourselves mainly with realist texts from the English canon, with the detailed banalities of everyday life expressed so vividly on the page. Taking Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South as our central text, we’ll explore the ways in which food tells stories of class, character, time, and place. While the class will centre the experience of reading fiction, there will also be an opportunity for you to draft and interrogate your own non-fiction food writing.

No previous knowledge or experience is required, though you will be asked to bring along your favourite examples of detailed, visceral, delicious food writing in 19th century fiction. You will be provided with a pre-course reading pack and signposted to additional online resources, both at the British Library, and beyond.

This course takes place on Zoom and we will email you a joining link the day before. There will be opportunities to ask the tutor, Kate Young, questions throughout, and have conversations with your fellow participants in virtual breakout rooms.

Live captions will be provided by Stagetext.

This course is one of three-part course on food in literature. You may also like

Learn Live: Food in Children’s Literature – Wednesday 15 September

Learn Live: Food in 20th- and 21st-century Literature – Wednesday 29 September


Name: Learn Live: Food in 19th-century Literature
Where: Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £20.00
Student: £16.00
Registered Unemployed: £16.00
Disabled: £16.00
Senior (60+): £18.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546