Victorian period

Cultural Dictionary

Victorian period definition

The period of British history when Queen Victoria ruled; it includes the entire second half of the nineteenth century, a time when Britain was the most powerful nation in the world. The Victorian period was known for a rather stern morality. It was also marked by a general earnestness about life and by a confidence that Britain's domestic prosperity (see Industrial Revolution) and vast holdings overseas (see British Empire) were signs of the country's overall righteousness (see white man's burden). As the Victorian period continued, however, such easy beliefs were increasingly challenged.

Note: The Victorian period produced a great number of diverse writers and thinkers. (See Robert Browning; Charles Darwin; Charles Dickens; Rudyard Kipling; John Stuart Mill; Robert Louis Stevenson; and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.)
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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