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Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture

Victorian Narratives of the Recent Past

Memory, History, Fiction

Authors: Kingstone, Helen

  • Demonstrates how Victorian historians tended to avoid writing about their own era, and shows how those rare historians who did write contemporary history anxiously defended themselves against criticism from both peers and successors 
  • Shows how a group of mid-century novelists used retrospective provincial novels to give voice to apparently ‘unhistoric’ individuals, and to challenge views both of national progress and decline 
  • Identifies two key dimensions to the challenge of contemporary-history-writing: the temporal and the social  
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Buy this book

eBook £63.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-49550-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover £79.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-49549-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover £79.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-84186-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book explains why narrating the recent past is always challenging, and shows how it was particularly fraught in the nineteenth century. The legacy of Romantic historicism, the professionalization of the historical discipline, and even the growth of social history, all heightened the stakes. This book brings together Victorian histories and novels to show how these parallel genres responded to the challenges of contemporary history writing in divergent ways. Many historians shrank from engaging with controversial recent events. This study showcases the work of those rare historians who defied convention, including the polymath Harriet Martineau, English nationalist J. R. Green, and liberal enthusiast Spencer Walpole. A striking number of popular Victorian novels are retrospective. This book argues that Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot’s “novels of the recent past” are long overdue recognition as genuinely historical novels. By focusing on provincial communities, these novelists reveal undercurrents invisible to national narratives, and intervene in debates about women’s contribution to history.

About the authors

Helen Kingstone is Lecturer in Victorian Studies at the University of Glasgow. Her research addresses the relationship between memory and history in the nineteenth century, focusing on how writers in different genres and forms approached contemporary history. Other publications include a chapter in Utopias and Dystopias in the Fiction of H. G. Wells and William Morris, ed. Emelyne Godfrey (Palgrave, 2016), and work on scientific ideas of progress in Nineteenth-Century Contexts and in Historicising Humans ed. Efram Sera-Shriar (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). 

Reviews

“Victorian Narratives of the Recent Past is a fine, detailed study of a fascinating topic. The book is scholarly and ranges with ease between overviews of social and academic attitudes and trends to very specific and nuanced readings of texts. … It is also written in a style perfectly accessible to anyone interested in nineteenth-century history, literary criticism and gender studies. There is a good deal to learn from what is a very welcome addition to nineteenth-century studies.” (A. G. van den Broek, The George Eliot Review, Issue 48, September, 2017) 


“It is rigorous in the research base on which it draws; it is original and distinctive in its carefully and subtly developed argument ... . The work is conceptually sophisticated yet lucid and accessible.” (Prof David Amigoni, Keele University, UK)

Table of contents (9 chapters)

  • Introduction: Who’s Afraid of Contemporary History?

    Kingstone, Helen

    Pages 1-25

  • History as a Temporal Continuum: From Walter Scott to William Stubbs

    Kingstone, Helen

    Pages 29-53

  • The Social Continuum: History without Heroes from William Hazlitt to J. R. Seeley

    Kingstone, Helen

    Pages 55-70

  • Gendered Genres: Professional History Versus Antiquarianism and the Historical Novel

    Kingstone, Helen

    Pages 71-84

  • Immersion and Overview in Histories without Hindsight

    Kingstone, Helen

    Pages 87-114

Buy this book

eBook £63.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-49550-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover £79.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-49549-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover £79.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-84186-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Victorian Narratives of the Recent Past
Book Subtitle
Memory, History, Fiction
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-49550-7
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-49550-7
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-49549-1
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-84186-1
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
X, 244
Number of Illustrations
2 b/w illustrations
Topics