Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894) is best remembered for her collection of verse ‘Goblin Market and Other Poems’, but her stories, essays, and religious poetry have also found readers throughout the twentieth century. Most of Rossetti’s work was influenced by her devout religious convictions and the pressures placed upon women during Victorian times.
While the reputations of authors and poets can wax and wane both during their lives and the years that follow, few have polarised opinion as much as Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). His name is inextricably associated with the other Romantic poets, Byron and Keats, but his atheism (and his appalling treatment of his wife) invoked genuine hatred while he lived, and the quality of the poetry of the Romantics in general, and his in particular, has, at times, been much derided. However, the list of his admirers is far longer then the list of his critics.
More than any other contemporary writer, Alfred Tennyson (1809 -1892) embodied the Victorian age, and during his lifetime, he, Queen Victoria and William Gladstone were said to be the three most famous people alive. Much loved by Victoria and Albert, he became poet laureate in 1850, and remained so until his death, the longest serving before and since. He was also unique in being the first peer to be created for his writing. By general consensus, then and now, he was the finest of the Victorian poets.
When William Wordsworth (1770-1850) published ‘Lyrical Ballads’ with Samuel Coleridge in 1798, they launched the Romantic Age of English Literature. Although now generally considered the greatest poet of his age, at the time he would have been considered secondary to Keats, Scott and later Tennyson. His semi-autobiographical poem, ‘The Prelude’, raised little interest when it was published by his widow after his death, but it has come to be viewed as his masterpiece.
Born Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall in 1880, Hall wrote eight novels, the most famous being ‘The Well of Loneliness’. With its overtly lesbian theme, the book was published in 1928, but was deemed obscene and was withdrawn from circulation, not appearing again until 1949.
Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943) was largely ignored by her parents as she was growing up, and began writing and sketching as a means of occupying her time. She would come to create some of the most enduringly popular children’s stories ever written.
John Locke (1632-1704) was considered the father of Classical Liberalism. His ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ was a milestone in the developing comprehension of the human mind.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was an English philosopher. He is best remembered for ‘Leviathan’, a hugely influential book that has caused him to be considered one of the founders of modern political philosophy.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, born 6 March 1806, was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both Britain and the United States during her lifetime.