Friday, 16 December 2011

What to get a Victorianist for the holidays

Preparing for the contents of this post led me to considerably expanding the contents of my Amazon wishlist, and, as always, sighing dejectedly over the fact that I cannot afford nearly as many books as I would like to own. This feeling was considerably dispelled by the fact that only two days ago, I happened upon Phyllis Grosskurth's biography of Havelock Ellis in one of my local charity shops for just £3. So, that was my little Christmas present to myself, since I've increasingly been researching Ellis's life and work lately.

Then, what does one get to a Victorian scholar, or a person who is interested in the Victorian period? There are so many books out there about that part of history, it can sometimes prove difficult to weed out the good from the mediocre. So here's a quick, short list of books that I'd personally love to find under my Christmas tree.

Richard Aldous, The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone Vs. Disraeli
Gripping, intelligent, relevant and well-researched, this explores two of the most prominent Victorian prime ministers and their political relationship.

E.W. Hornung,Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman
Directly inspired by Sherlock Holmes, the Raffles books are amusing, exciting and charming, and offer a story about young men who resort to stealing and criminality when they find themselves 'hard up', resulting in much shenanigans, banter and page-turning glee.

Tristram Hunt, Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City
Both scholarly informative and entertaining, this book brings Victorian cities to life with unprecedented vividness.

Gavin Stamp, Lost Victorian Britain: How the Twentieth Century Destroyed the Nineteenth's Architectural Masterpieces
Visually well-equipped, this explores some of Britain's Victorian architecture and the reasons why these buildings have fallen into disrepair. Somewhat disheartening, but nonetheless a warning-sign book on what might continue to happen if we do not take better care of British heritage.

Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life
Superbly researched and sourced, this most recent and heavily publicised Dickens biography is the adequate thing to get before the next year's bicentenary of Dickens's birth.

1 comment:

  1. A perfect little list. The Gavin Stamp one wasn't a book I was aware of but it looks fantastic.