The JVC Graduate Student Essay Prize

We are pleased to announce the next JVC Essay Prize competition. The aim of the prize is to promote scholarship among postgraduate research students working on the Victorian period in any discipline in the UK and abroad.  The Journal inaugurated the prize in 2007, and our past winners include Louise Lee, Tiffany Watt-Smith, Bob Nicholson, Tom Scriven, Roisín Laing and Lucy Whitehead, whose essays appear in issues 13.1 (2008), 15.1 (2010), 17.3 (2012),  19.1 (2014),  21 4 (2016) and 24.

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Martini Maccomo, the African Lion King

Of all the different circus disciplines, the one that appears to have been seen as the most ‘exotic’ was that of the lion-tamer. This was man triumphing over nature, and travelling menageries, in which these lion-tamers initially worked, were an embodiment of British imperialism, showing how Britain had dominion over its empire and all that was in it. Big cat shows were also intended to thrill and excite, as the lion-tamer faced nature red in tooth and claw. It fed

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Spotting Wildlife in Arts and Crafts Textiles: The Red Squirrels of Morris & Co.

Red squirrels had reason to be wary of the Victorians. Nineteenth-century culture popularised the animals – they were even kept as pets – but the Victorians also unwittingly caused the decline of the red squirrel population by introducing the rival species, the grey squirrel, to Britain.[1] Today, sciurus vulgaris stands at the centre of an emotionally charged debate about the conservation of native habitats. The red squirrel’s persistent appeal most likely has to do with its endearing looks. But in

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Curry Tales of the Empire

Indian curry is an extraordinarily popular genre of food, visible not only in the shape of curry houses across the world but also as take-aways, frozen curry meals and curry powders sold in grocers’ stores. But what is the history of the Indian curry? Was it Indian to begin with or a colonial imposition evolving from a simplified and over-generalized understanding of local food cultures?  This essay traces the history of Indian curry as we know it today and the

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The Lost Circuses of Victorian Leeds

The Victorian era was the golden age of the circus. By the time that Victoria came to the throne, the circus, as we might recognise it today, was barely seventy years old. Founded in London by Philip Astley in 1768 with displays of horsemanship, military, and trick riding, the circus had expanded rapidly in the following years. Astley travelled throughout England giving performances in many northern towns and cities until he eventually made his way to Dublin. Performances were either

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Victorian #PlantParenthood: Houseplants, Love, and Domestic Rearrangements

Houseplants are a big deal now. As the COVID-19 pandemic has altered how we engage with the world, plants have stepped in as companions in easing stress and boosting mental health.  Moreover, plant corners of social media have bloomed into virtual global networks of plant collectors through shared hashtags, aesthetics, and even plant swaps. This botanic boom is far from novel. During the nineteenth century, horticulture and botany positively bloomed. A distinctly modern branch was indoor gardening (also called “window

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New issue: announcing JVC 26.2!

Journal of Victorian Culture 26.2 is now online, with lots of exciting interdisciplinary work, encompassing  art history, print history, literary studies, digital humanities and medical history. Articles by Jina Moon and James Aaron Green will be of especial interest to readers of popular and New Woman fiction. There are some fabulous fashion plates in Rebecca Mitchell’s piece on Dolly Varden!  The issue also features several free access articles, including a cutting edge Digital Forum on Mapping.  We’d also like to remind everyone of imminent

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Crafting Communities: Rethinking Academic Engagement in Pandemic Times and Beyond

It is July 2020, the summer of Covid. Libraries are closed. Museums are closed. University courses and conferences have moved online. A small group of Victorianists gathers on Zoom to learn how to make hair art. Led by Vanessa Warne (U of Manitoba), the event is a test run for the upcoming semester, when Vanessa plans to make hair art with students in an online literature class. Twisting wire around hair, we reflect on the forms of presence and connection

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The Tragic Poet: Whose Name was Writ in Water

There are those who consider the words of the sanguine poet scarcely worth the reading. A prescription formula for funerals, heartbreak and teenage angst, poetry has long been established as the literary tonic for the dilapidated human condition. In the name of authenticity, it naturally follows that the greater the suffering of a maudlin bard, the greater their work and legacy. Mythology has romanticised and popularised the tragic poet, a familiar archetype in celebrity literary culture. It is the reason

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A toast to Professor Laurel Brake on the occasion of her eightieth birthday

When Marysa Demoor, a longstanding member of Journal of Victorian Culture’s editorial board, suggested a celebration of eminent Victorianist Laurel Brake’s birthday, she was deluged with contributions from some of the most prominent scholars in the field: Margaret Beetham, Anne Humpherys, John Stokes, Helen Small, Lene Østermark, Marianne van Remoortel, James Mussell, Fionnuala Dillane, Andrew King, Mark Turner and Gowan Dawson. Each offered a personal take on the impact Professor Brake has had on their area of research activity, whether

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Body-Snatching and Early Victorian Medical Education

The story of the medical profession in Britain during the first half of the nineteenth century is complex, and can be seen as representative of several key shifts in social, educational, and economic outlook. The emergent ‘professions’ of the early-Victorian period, including medicine, would undergo dramatic transformations in the wake of fast industrialisation, population growth, and increased centralised regulation. One of the most notable changes to the medical profession at this time is the increase in generalised medical schools, responding

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