This is an ambitious and in many respects singularly brave book which adds a further dimension to the growing understanding of middle-class life that has prompted the research of increasing numbers of historians in the last decade or so.
Interest in Jack the Ripper continues to be insatiable. New books, articles and webpages on the subject appear almost weekly - a Google search on 'Jack the Ripper' yields nearly 197,000 online references with varying degrees of accuracy and seriousness, the front-runner being www.casebook.org.
The Victorians is the second volume to appear in The Oxford English Literary History, a series commissioned by the late Kim Scott Walwyn to replace the fifteen-volume Oxford History of English Literature (the last part of which was published as recently as 1997).
In recent years, the debate on the role of science and its many guises in nineteenth century medical practice, has been reinvigorated by new studies which have shown the dense complexity of the interweavings between science and medicine.
In Stephen Reynolds's A Poor Man's House, first published in 1908, he gives a loving description of the 'baked dinner' that 'Mam Widger' would cook, when funds permitted, for the Sidmouth fishing family with whom he lived:
This is the recipe for baked dinner:
Cultures of Empire is an ideal volume for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, along with other scholars seeking to reflect on developments in an interdisciplinary field of inquiry that has rapidly evolved in little more than a decade.
Despite a certain academic heaviness, with no fewer than fifty-seven pages of notes, bibliography and index, and despite an occasionally disagreeable academic vocabulary, of which more anon, this book has a pleasantly simple knock-down argument, that Christianity in Britain enjoyed a long nineteenth century of prosperity, between 1800 and 1960, and only began to go into terminal decline in the
This book seems to have been a long time coming. Its precursors were a slim volume in the popular Macmillan Studies in Economic and Social History series in 1992, and more recently the Atlas of Victorian Mortality (with Nicola Shelton), published in 1997.
This volume seeks to display mid-nineteenth century views on modernity as well as to investigate aspects of modernisation in Victorian London. Observers then and now could not and cannot help but note the piecemeal re-development of London in this period, compared, for instance, with Paris.
It would seem that this weighty collection is part of an even larger project. Much of the preparatory work was carried out by Peter Kitson and his colleagues in the recent Romanticism and Colonialism.