The Victorians: Illustrated Edition

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9780091796228: The Victorians: Illustrated Edition

The Victorians has been widely acclaimed as the classic single-volume history of the Victorian era. Now, in this illustrated edition, A.N. Wilson presents his magnificent portrait of the age alongside many enthralling images of the 19th-century lives that he pieced together - telling a story that is still unfinished in our own day.

This beautifully produced large-format hardback contains over 150 illustrations, including photographs, paintings, drawings and cartoons from the age.

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Review:

AN Wilson’s The Victorians is the longest and liveliest of the books which have appeared in the wake of the centenary of Victoria’s death. As one might expect, Wilson, Evening Standard columnist, novelist, and polemical biographer, has an eye for colourful detail, cannot resist gossip about the great and good, and smells out cant and hypocrisy at 10 paces. Familiar tales are told about the sexual proclivities, religious hypocrisies and gargantuan economic and imperial appetites of the Victorians. But the book is more than an exercise in debunking. Wilson sees 19th century Britons as the harbingers of modernity: the first society to grapple with and agonise over the Darwinian struggle of social mobility and industrial growth. He documents in detail the relentless drive for getting on, sympathises with its victims--in the English towns, the Irish bogs and on the Indian plains – and warms to the critical commentary of the chief sages and seers of the era: Carlyle, Dickens, and Manning. The intellectual set-pieces of the time--the Gothic revival, religion versus science, Anglo-Catholicism--are particularly well-handled.

As well as being its strengths, the author’s prejudices are at times the book’s weaknesses. Apart from Victoria’s Prime Ministers and the Irish nationalist leader, Parnell, Wilson doesn’t much like the politicians of the period (or the political economists), and these aspects of Victorian history get rather short shrift. And the narrative occasionally jumps and jars as he tries to include everything and anything (Dostoyevsky and Wagner wander in at one stage). But there is much to amuse and instruct throughout, and, just as important, not a little to argue with as well.--Miles Taylor

Review:

"The best single volume work on the Victorian age yet written." (Andrew Roberts Evening Standard)

"A magnificent achievement: plucky, engaged and full of awe at the way we continue to live out its inheritance today." ( Katherine Hughes, The Guardian)

"It's hugely enjoyable, and you will undoubtedly learn something interesting about your own relationship to the past while reading it." ( Independent on Sunday)

"A wonderfully percipient and well-written survey of an epoch...What more could anyone interested in Victorian history wish for." ( Lord Blake, Literary Review)

"A.N. Wilson's The Victorians was the book he was born to write; it was evidently the product of decades of love for and familiarity with the period" (Philip Hensher Spectator)

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