Queen Victoria reigned for sixty-four years, and in those years Britain changed enormously. Not only were there many scientific and technological advances, such as the spread of railways, a transatlantic telegraph cable and Darwin's theories on the origins of man, but there were also momentous social and cultural developments, including the advancement of women's education and the founding of charities. This was all set against a backdrop of vast wealth and appalling poverty, devastating famine and war, and the contrast of life in huge city slums and changing country landscapes.
These aspects of life were described in writing by journalists, essayists, social commentators, poets and children. Novels such as Black Beauty and The Water Babies pricked the conscience of the nation. Women travelled: Florence Nightingale to the Crimea to reform nursing practices, Sarah Wilson to South Africa where she was the first female war correspondent. Hippolyte Taine, the French historian and philosopher, was fascinated by what he found in England, and Fredrick Engels developed much of his political theory as a result of working in his family's cotton mill in Manchester.
A Year in the Life of Victorian Britain covers an enormous range of subjects written by a wide range of people. It spans the length of Victoria's reign and includes an entry for every day of the year. Famous names and unfamiliar ones, from Victoria herself to the shy Anon, are all represented in this rich anthology.
Felicity Trotman was born in Belfast, moving to Wiltshire as a child. Having studied graphic design and taken a History degree, she worked in publishing. She was a fiction editor at Puffin and at Macmillan Children's Books. Eventually turning freelance, she added history and military history to her children's specialty - though she admits that she prefers firing guns to writing about them. She is a churchwarden, school governor, and has spent many happy years as a member of the English Civil War Society.