In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. Many events occurred during her reign in England and in the rest of the world. Many places in the British colonies were named after her. Even the nineteenth century has been referred to as the Victorian Era or Victorian England or the Victorian Age. Victoria also changed the way the monarchy in Britain worked. During her reign, Britain was the most prosperous nation in the world. England had gone from a rural society to an urban one. Britain did not lose a war during her reign. She also inspired authors to do writings on human rights and saving the poor. Victoria affected the rest of Europe because she was the “Grandmother of Europe”. She put on the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Golden Jubilee, and the Diamond Jubilee, to show how great the British Empire was. The British created a new renaissance.
The Victorian Age was a period of remarkable progress in physical as well as medical science. Henry Bessemer’s process which made possible the mass production of steel and Michael Faraday’s discoveries of electrical power added much to the material prosperity of the period. The use of chloroform in medical practice by Simpson in 1847 and the anti-septic surgery developed by Joseph Lister came as a great relief to the suffering humanity. In 1859 Charles Darwin, the great scientist of the day published “The Origin of Species”. It brought forth a rather shocking theory that man and all other species of life had evolved from a common source.
In no other period of English history was there such an output of literature as in the Victorian Age, Poetry, Prose, novel, history, and painting and writing on painting-all these were produced in large quantities. Alfred Tennyson who became the poet Laureate in 1850 was the greatest poet of the day. Robert Browning, famous for his dramatic monologues, was his nearest rival. Other poets of the period, but lower caliber, were Matthew Arnold, Swinburne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his sister Christina Rossetti, Fitzgerald, Coventry Patmore, and many others. Great among the prose were Carlyle, Macaulay, Ruskin, Newman, and many others. However, the most outstanding literary contribution of the period was the novel. As far as the novel was concerned it was an age of giants. Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and many others. In the mid-Victorian period, there was a distinguished school of artists known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who wanted to revive the art forms which existed in European art before the time of Raphael.
The latter half of Queen Victoria’s reign was noted for many reforms in the field of both politics and education. The Reforms Act of 1867 and 1884 extended the right to vote to larger and larger sections of society. This in turn necessitated reforms in the educational systems of the country. The educational reforms effected by Gladstone eradicated some of the anomalies which had become a stumbling block in the path of progress of the nation. The only problem which Gladstone failed to solve, because of the lack of co-operation from the House of Lords, was Home Rule for Ireland. At any rate, speaking, on the whole, the Victorian Age was a period of peace and prosperity.