The Victorian Age took its name from the long-reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, who ascended the throne in 1837 and died in 1901. However, this term is misleading for several reasons. First, it suggests that that period of more than sixty years was monochrome in its characteristics, whereas it was a time of extraordinary variety and development in English life and human experience at large. Further, ‘Victorianism’ implies that the personal convictions and temperament of the Queen expressed her subjects’ interpretations of and responses to life. In fact, as Lytton Strachey argues in his biography of Victoria (1921), the monarch was a very imperfect representation of the age that bears her name. Victorianism is the story of unprecedented developments and turbulent complexity in the intellectual, moral and cultural lives of society and of individuals. Yet the Queen preserved the characteristics of her singular personality through more than eighty years of existence, as Strachey observes: the girl, the wife, the aged woman, were the same: vitality, conscientiousness, pride and simplicity were hers to the latest hour.
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