The Victorian World
Facts and Fictions
by Ginger S. Frost
September 2018, 227pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5590-0
$65, £50, 57€, A90
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eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5591-7
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Despite press coverage of Jack the Ripper and countless Victorian crime dramas, violent crime declined during the nineteenth century in all parts of England, including large cities.

An introduction to the myths and realities of the history of Victorian Britain, with accompanying primary sources.

While the Victorian era captivates many today, much of what people believe about the Victorian world is actually false. This book looks at nine specific myths about Victorian Britain, explaining how the myths perpetuated and then showing why they are inaccurate. Coverage spans 1830–1914, from shortly before Victoria’s reign to World War I.

The book is organized in three sections, beginning with social issues, then cultural ones, and ending with politics and war. The social sections pull in the reader by discussing the most common myths about the Victorians—their sexual prudery, strict gender roles, and infamous views of the family—while offering counterpoints to the myths. The cultural section moves into humor, criminal justice issues, and race, and the political section caps the book with discussions of the Industrial Revolution, foreign affairs, and war. Included are a large number of primary source documents showing how the misconceptions became popular, along with evidence for what scholars now believe to be the truths behind the myths.


  • Corrects nine myths about the Victorian era, with explanations of why these myths began
  • Includes over 50 primary documents from a wide variety of genres
  • Covers all classes of Victorian life, featuring the voices of women, children, the poor, and racial minorities
  • Offers a nontraditional approach to studying Victorian Britain
  • Provides a starting point for discussions about historical memory and historiography, and the differences between myth, memory, and history
Ginger S. Frost is university research professor of history at Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama. She is author of four books about Victorian England, the most recent of which is Illegitimacy in English Law and Society, 1860–1930. She was a fellow of the National Humanities Center and a former president of the Southern Conference on British Studies. She is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and recently received a Franklin grant from the American Philosophical Society.


"This book will provide background not only on the Victorians but also suggest information about the countries that made up the United Kingdom, especially Wales and Ireland, and it explains the challenges facing social classes of the UK. Recommended for persons and institutions who would like a non-traditional view of Victorian Britain."—Booklist, December 15, 2018

"Any library with readers interested in the world of 19th-century Great Britain should certainly consider adding this book to their collection. Its organization and clarity will appeal to a wide range of readers."—ARBA, February 4, 2019

Historical Facts and Fictions

Did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned? Did the Egyptians really worship animals and gods with animal heads? History is full of misconceptions that have been passed down as historical facts and become rooted in the popular imagination. This series explores historical fictions and what we now believe to be historical truths. Each book focuses on a particular topic, such as a period, event, civilization, movement, religion, or person, and explores roughly 10 misconceptions. Chapters summarize the misconception, discuss how it arose and was propagated, and explain what is now taken as historical fact. The series helps readers think critically about the past and prepares them to be equally critical of the present.
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