TOP FIVE BOOKS On... THE Vic­to­ri­ans

All About History - - REVIEWS -

Queen Vic­to­ria Au­thor: lucy Wors­ley Price: £25

Where bet­ter to be­gin with the Vic­to­ri­ans than with the monarch who de­fined them? This new bi­og­ra­phy from the his­to­rian and broad­caster Lucy Wors­ley ex­plores the sov­er­eign’s life through 24 days that shaped her life. Draw­ing on di­aries, let­ters and more, Wors­ley hu­man­ises a woman who is too of­ten re­duced to sym­bolic sta­tus.

Do­min­ion Au­thor: Peter Ack­royd Price: £25

The fifth in­stal­ment in the au­thor’s His­tory Of Eng­land se­ries sums up the coun­try’s apex, from vic­tory at Water­loo in 1815 (yes, we know, a lit­tle be­fore Vic­to­ria’s time) to rul­ing an em­pire that spanned a quar­ter of the world by 1901. While some might be put off by its broad ap­proach, it re­mains an ex­cel­lent in­tro to the era.

one Hot Sum­mer Au­thor: rose­mary Ash­ton Price: £11

An ac­count of the Great Stink of 1858, when the stench of the sewage-filled Thames sparked a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, might seem like a niche choice. But Rose­mary Ash­ton ar­gues the year was also a land­mark one for three iconic Vic­to­ri­ans – Dis­raeli, Dick­ens and Dar­win – and in­ter­weaves their sto­ries with the cul­tural his­tory of a scorch­ing, smelly sum­mer.

Lib­erty’s Dawn Au­thor: Emma Grif­fin Price: £13

No dis­cus­sion of the Vic­to­rian age can be com­plete with­out men­tion­ing the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion. This ‘peo­ple’s his­tory’ draws on 350 ac­counts writ­ten by labour­ers of­fer­ing a fac­tory-floor view of the pe­riod. Through these au­to­bi­ogra­phies the au­thor re­veals the so­cial im­pact of the tech boom.

Vic­to­ri­ans un­done Au­thor: Kathryn hughes Price: £10

This unique book fo­cuses on the body parts that de­fine five fa­mous Vic­to­ri­ans as a means of ex­plor­ing the at­ti­tudes of the age. For ex­am­ple, a study of Charles Dar­win’s beard fo­cuses on the fash­ion for fa­cial hair post-crimea, while ru­mours that Ge­orge Eliot’s right hand was larger than her left scan­dalised her fam­ily.

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