England’s Victorian Age, encompassing the years from 1837 to 1901, had an abundance of writers, scientists, inventors, and healthcare advocates. These were years of social, cultural, and economic growth for the British.
The Victorian Age was named for the ruler of this era,Queen Victoria. Born Alexandrina Victoria in 1819, Queen Victoria was crowned Queen of England following the death of her uncle, King William. She married her cousin Albert, a German prince. Her reign was the longest in English history, and many improvements to the living and working conditions of the working class and poor and the English society in general were made during her time of rule.
Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) was one of the most popular writers of the Victorian Age, and his works are still enjoyed today. His books portrayed the darker side of this era and focused on England’s working class and impoverished population. Oliver Twist is a story describing the plight of orphaned and homeless Victorian Age street children who survived by stealing and picking pockets. Some of Dickens’ other famous works are A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield.
Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) was the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale was born to an upper class English family who discouraged her from becoming a nurse. Daughters of wealthy families were not expected to work, and nurses during this time were typically from poor families. At the beginning of her career, Nightingale worked with people from the poor segment of English society. In 1854, she traveled to Turkey to administer care to wounded English soldiers serving in the Crimean War. She instituted clean conditions and proper medical techniques, and the wounded soldiers’ death rate fell significantly. She earned the nickname “The Lady with the Lamp” during her service in the war because she visited each soldier’s bed at night, carrying a lamp to light her way.
English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) wrote The Origin of Species in 1859. This book explained his Theory of Natural Selection and was the foundation for modern evolution theory in later years. After studying fossils and living animals, Darwin concluded that all species of animals, including humans, evolved from common ancestors through the process of natural selection. The Origin of Species created quite a bit of controversy, but in general, Victorian Age scientists as well as English society of that time accepted Darwin’s concept of evolution.