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Palgrave Macmillan

Victoria's Madmen

Revolution and Alienation

ISBN 9780230313828
Publication Date August 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Victoria's Madmen tells the stories of a host of figures who came to exemplify a contradictory history of the Victorian age: not one of Dickensian London and smoking factories, but one of little known revolutionaries and radicals.

Clive Bloom mixes extraordinary marginal voices with famous - and infamous - figures, from messiahs like Richard Brothers and Octavia 'Daughter of God'; writers such as Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton; revolutionaries and radicals like Karl Marx, Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw and Oswald Mosley; madmen like Richard Dadd and Jack the Ripper; orientalists and guerrilla fighters such as T. E. Lawrence; worshippers of Pan such as Arthur Machen, Kenneth Grahame and J.M. Barrie, as well as the Latvian anarchists who killed three policemen in the East End of London.

This is the story of those who were outcasts by temperament and choice; the non-conformists of the age. Clive Bloom's readable account of the dark underbelly of Victoria's Britain perfectly captures the unrest bubbling under the surface of strait-laced society.

Clive Bloom is a respected broadcaster and Emeritus Professor of English and American Studies at Middlesex University, UK. Widely published, he is the author of Violent London, Riot City, Bestsellers and many other titles.

1. Manypeeplia Upsidownia
2. Radical Lunacy
3. The Shock of Vril
4. Massacre at Trafalgar
5. Sherlock Holmes and the Fairies
6. Knocking on Heaven's Door
7. Tinker Bell on Mars
8. Chatterton's Scorcher
9. The Death Machine of Hartman the Anarchist
10. Russia on the Clyde
11. Smoked Salmon and Onions
12. Imagined Worlds made Real
13. Playing Cricket in the Corridors
14. The Collective Dreams of Bees
15. The Way of the Ego
16. Vegetarian Revolutionaries
17. On the Frontier
18. The Lifting of the Fog
19. The Crusade
20. The Sound of Distant Drums
Bibliography of Secondary Sources


'Victoria's Madmen seeks to argue that it is the perverse, radical and sometimes just downright insane minds of the nineteenth century that really prepared the way for modernity as we now know it. Bloom assembles a canon of 'Victoria's madmen' which freewheels through a bizarre miscellany of subjects including doubles, ghosts, anarchists and vegetarians.' - Times Literary Supplement
'In Victoria's Madmen, Clive Bloom marshals a crowd of men and women to help him dismantle the myth of Victorian conformity and uniformity. Bloom's 'madmen' include spiritualists and anarchists, atheists and visionaries, socialists, nudists and assassins… they all contribute to creating a 19th century wilder and richer than the one we usually encounter.' - New Statesman
'As an account of the age and the people who made (or alternatively unmade) it thus, it is a very enlightening, engrossing read.' - The Bookbag
'This richly diverse book contains a number of gems…it coveys well the bubbling energy of those in the Victorian era who swam against the tide, and many of whose ideas would become the language of counter-cultural modernity' - Times Higher Education '...a fascinating read. It is all too easy to think of the 19th century as a century entirely filled with pious, conformist churchgoers, demure crinolines and over-stuffed drawing-rooms. Clive Bloom has worked at the margins, deftly interweaving the revolutionary, the rebellious and the downright odd to draw a more complex picture of a time of instability and change, a period filled with sedition as well as certitude. His 19th century is far stranger and more wild – and far more exciting.' - Judith Flanders, author of The Invention of Murder 'Clive Bloom has a fine reputation for writing accessible history. Here he turns his attention to a cluster of Victorians, some well-known, others long-forgotten, who espoused or inspired what seem some of the more bizarre and esoteric ideas of the nineteenth century. A good, thought-provoking read, often surprising and good fun.' - Clive Emsley, Open University
'Against the deadening, nostalgic idea of 'Victorian values', - usually seen from the establishment point of view - Clive Bloom has mustered a bizarre alternative army of republicans, spiritualists, theosophists, Christian Socialists, anarchists, golden agers, nudists, occultists, foreign revolutionists, environmentalists and civil servants, most of whom were considered mad when they were active. His surprising conclusion is that this apparently barmy army laid the foundations of modernity's counter-culture and in some cases of mainstream culture as well. We have met 'other Victorians' before, but none quite so colourful as these.' - Professor Sir Christopher Frayling
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