Event: History Today at Hatchards, Socrates

Victorian

The ‘Great Farini’ (William Leonard Hunt) and Krao, by W. & D. Downey, 19th century.

In Victorian Britain, attitudes towards race, gender, disability and Empire were all to be found in the popular ‘freak shows’.

Convicts wearing ‘mask hats’ exercising at Pentonville Prison. Engraving by Swain after Bennett, c.1870.

Turning chaotic havens of ‘sloth and debauchery’ into systemised institutions of ‘pain and terror’, Victorian ‘model’ prisons were anything but. 

William Holman Hunt, and Edith Holman Hunt, late 19th century.

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England.

Queen Victoria in 1887, by Alexander Bassano.

An examination of the ‘fleeting, fine-grained intimacies’ of letters, diaries and memoirs produces a witty and scholarly account of Victorian attitudes to the body.

A practitioner of Mesmerism using animal magnetism

Many assumptions and values separate us from the Victorians, but belief in the supernatural is not one of them, argues Simone Natale. 

Roger Hudson details the rebuilding of the world’s first theme park in south London in 1853.

Lewis Carroll self-portrait circa 1856

Carroll’s perceived paedophilia seems to have little scholarly evidence.

Although unmentioned in modern reference books and works of economic history, Thornton was one of the greatest commercial figures of the day and, writes W.G. Hoskins, when he died, left “by far the largest fortune of the century to that date.”

Portrait photograph of Lord Randolph Churchill taken in 1883.

Robert Rhodes James profiles the man rivalled only by Gladstone as the most able politician and Parliamentarian of his time.

Robert E. Zegger describes the alarming dip in Anglo-French relations, half way through the reign of Napoleon III.