Sherlock Holmes and The Victorians
Sherlock Holmes is a worldwide known character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. To understand his motivations and have an idea of the world created around him, we must think about the historical context in which the novel is set. This takes us back to a period in England knwon for its industrial development, rough work conditions, and economical prosperity. We are talking about the Victorian Era.
Who were the Victorians?
The Victorians lived over one hundred and fifty years ago during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 to 1901).
What does Victorian Times mean?
Victorian Times means during Victoria’s rule. The time Queen Victoria was on the throne. She ruled for 64 years.
What was it like living in the Victorian Times?
There was no electricity, instead gas lamps or candles were used for light.
There were no cars. People either walked, travelled by boat or train or used coach horses to move from place to place.
Why are the Victorians so famous?
Britain managed to build a huge empire during the Victorian period. It was also a time of tremendous change in the lives of British people. In 1837 most people lived in villages and worked on the land; by 1901, most lived in towns and worked in offices, shops and factories.
Here is a clip from the 2009 film adaptation of Queen Victoria’s early life: “The Young Victoria”.
During Queen Victoria’s reign:
- Britain became the most powerful and richest country in the world, with the largest empire that had ever existed, ruling a quarter of the world’s population.
- Towns and cities got piped water, gas and, by the end of the century, electricity
- The number of people living in Britain more than doubled from 16 million to 37 million, causing a huge demand for food, clothes and housing.
- Factories and machines were built to meet this demand and new towns grew up, changing the landscape and the ways people lived and worked.
- Railways, originally built to transport goods, meant people could travel easily around the country for the first time. Railways brought new foods to towns and cities.
- Soldiers were at war all over the world especially in 1850 – 1880.
- Many households had a servant or servants – in 1891, 2 million servants were recorded in the census
- Seaside holidays were ‘invented’ (became popular).
- Police Force was ‘invented’.
- At the beginning of the Victorian period crossing the Atlantic took up to eight weeks. By 1901 it took about a week.
- New cookers and gadgets for the home were invented.
Extracted from <http://www.chiddingstone.kent.sch.uk/homework/victorians.html>
WRITTEN TASK: My Life as a Victorian
Imagine you live in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, Write a diary entry (80-100 words) describing a normal day for you. Include:
- Your activities during the day.
- A description of the places you visit.
- The people you interact with.
- Your emotions and feelings.