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Publisher's Summary

This series of 36 fascinating lectures is a chronological journey into the story of Victorian Britain, from the unexpected ascension to the throne of teenaged Princess Victoria in 1837 to her death in 1901 as the Boer War neared its end.
Presented with all of Victoria's strengths and foibles left intact by an award-winning teacher and author, the lectures invite you to reflect on both the positive and negative aspects of her reign. You'll discover the lives of Victorian women; the situation facing working people and the rise of trade unionism; Victorian achievements in art, literature, architecture, and music; and what Leonard Woolf called "the seriousness of games," and of leisure-time activities as windows on Victorian life.
You'll discuss the important role played by Christianity as a force for both principled adherence to tradition and principled pursuit of change; and the influence of science and the debates over its impact that animated the Victorians.
And you'll learn what the Victorians believed about education; the questions raised by Britain's rule over its empire, the problems of poverty and crime; the discoveries of Victorian explorers in Africa; and much more in this remarkable rendering of a remarkable age.
©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Dulce on 10-08-13

Very good introductory course

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I'd recommend this course to anyone who wants a broad overview of Victorian England. Prof. Allitt covers a LOT of topics, but none in very much depth. It's a great jumping off point to do further reading (listening). It's particularly useful that he quotes liberally from contemporary writers to give a sense of the culture. I wish a bibliography were included, though.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite lectures were on Gladstone and Disraeli. Prof. Allitt draws nuanced distinctions between them and we can see both sides of contemporary politics. While he describes the eccentricities as well as the accomplishments of both men, the portrayals don't veer toward caricature. Actually none of the people whom Allitt describes do--he seems to like the men and women he talks about and is sympathetic rather than condescending to their foibles.

What about Professor Patrick N. Allitt’s performance did you like?

I loved his teaching style. He's clear, not too redundant, and has a wonderful sense of humor about the material. His accent is engaging. All around, a terrific teacher.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, but the topics fascinated me.

Any additional comments?

On a personal note, I appreciated Prof. Allitt's attention to Victorian religion. This is a topic that is often absent from historical overviews. He's thorough and even handed.

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17 of 17 people found this review helpful

By Magnus Almgren on 07-26-14

36 fascinating lectures - it's true!

Just a brilliant and informative set of lectures.
I've listened to it twice, just because it was so interesting.
Covers a lot of different things in Victorian society, each having a lecture of it's own.
I'd love to have a sequel covering Britain until today by the same lecturer.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Nils on 07-24-15

So far the best lecturer, decent content

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. Anyone interested in the period will find a broad and sometimes deep tour over the victorian times.

What other book might you compare Victorian Britain to, and why?

It is much much detailed and broader in perspective than Life In Victorian Britain by Patterson but much less contrarian and iconoclastic than A.N Wilson's "The Victorians". However, a more conventional take on this period is a good start.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The frank description of poverty and classicism.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The above.

Any additional comments?

The lecturer is (so far) the most enjoyable of the entire Great Courses library. Nice delivery, clear voice, pleasent accent.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

By ColonelJames on 11-29-16

Less depressing than you might expect!

If you could sum up Victorian Britain in three words, what would they be?

Entertaining. Enlightening. Satisfying.

What other book might you compare Victorian Britain to, and why?

Recently I have listened to 'Understanding Japan' and 'European Thought and Culture in the 19th Century'. The former moved lightly over lots of different topics and the latter was more methodical and academic. This is somewhere in between the two in its style but probably a little better than either because of the charming, sometimes very funny, delivery of Professor Allitt.

Which character – as performed by Professor Patrick N. Allitt – was your favourite?

Himself. He was very likeable.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Certainly not.

Any additional comments?

I was doubtful about this one when I started listening, probably because the title, like Victoria's picture, suggests a sort of grim austerity and lifelessness. But this could not be further from the truth. This one is recommended.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Alexandra on 12-20-17

Very enjoyable course

What made the experience of listening to Victorian Britain the most enjoyable?

I loved the narrator, he has a nice English accent. I enjoyed when he imitated Queen Victoria's voice, that's hilarious :D

What did you like best about this story?

The whole course was extremely interesting. Lots of interesting facts and stories. I just loved it.

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By Jade on 05-31-17


A really fantastic lecture series, interesting and very well spoken. It has been a pleasure to listen to. This has whetted my appetite for reading Victorian novelists.

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