1895: Drama, Disaster and Disgrace in Late Victorian Britain

1895: Drama, Disaster and Disgrace in Late Victorian Britain

1895: Drama, Disaster and Disgrace in Late Victorian Britain

1895: Drama, Disaster and Disgrace in Late Victorian Britain


This book explores the lasting cultural and political impact of the historical events of this remarkable year, 1895.

"Kill the bugger!"

So read one telegram to the Marquess of Queensberry before his legal battle with Oscar Wilde in the spring of 1895. Today's readers often see the Wilde case as dramatising the intolerance and cruelty of late-Victorian life, but what was its contemporary significance? What was it like to live in Britain in 1895? Which stories, personalities and events really captured the headlines? From the insomniac Prime Minister's obsession with winning the Derby amidst a government in disarray, to unrest in the South African colonies, to the theft of the Football Association Cup, Nicholas Freeman shows how the Wilde scandal was just one aspect of a uniquely turbulent year.


‘Victorian’ is a term, at once indicative of a strongly determined concept and, simultaneously, an often notoriously vague notion, emptied of all meaningful content by the many journalistic misconceptions that persist about the inhabitants and cultures of the British Isles and Victoria’s Empire in the nineteenth-century. As such, it has become a by-word for the assumption of various, often contradictory habits of thought, belief, behaviour and perceptions. Victorian studies and studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture have, from their institutional inception, questioned narrowness of presumption, pushed at the limits of the nominal definition, and have sought to question the very grounds on which the unreflective perception of the so-called Victorian has been built; and so they continue to do. Victorian and nineteenth-century studies of literature and culture maintain a breadth and diversity of interest, of focus and inquiry, in an interrogative and intellectually openminded and challenging manner, which are equal to the exploration and inquisitiveness of its subjects. Many of the questions asked by scholars and researchers of the innumerable productions of nineteenth-century society actively put into suspension the clichés and stereotypes of ‘Victorianism’, whether the approach has been sustained by historical, scientific, philosophical, empirical, ideological or theoretical concerns; indeed, it would be incorrect to assume that each of these approaches to the idea of the Victorian has been, or has remained, in the main exclusive, sealed off from the interests and engagements of other approaches. A vital interdisciplinarity has been pursued and embraced, for the most part, even as there has been contest and debate amongst Victorianists, pursued with as much fervour as the affirmative exploration between different disciplines and differing epistemologies put to work in the service of reading the nineteenth century.

Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Culture aims to take up both the debates and the inventive approaches and departures from . . .

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