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Title: Encyclopedia of the Victorian Era Set of 4
Book Condition: New
About this title
Designed with a broad audience in mind, this interdisciplinary encyclopedia edited by Adams (associate professor of English, Cornell) and two experienced reference book editors is "intended to provide sweeping coverage of the social, political, and intellectual landscape of the British-dominated world during the years of the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1901." Though the emphasis is British, coverage extends to places around the globe where Victorian culture made a mark. Thus, the discussion in Agriculture is not confined to Britain but also considers India and America.
More than 620 alphabetically arranged entries vary in length from 500 to 4,000 words and cover topics such as Child labor, Crimean War, Domestic workers, East India Company, Electricity, Gardens and garden design, Gothic revival, Music halls, Race and racism, Railways, and Sanitation. The preface explains that, since biographical information is generally so easy to find, subject-based essays were favored over biographies in the selection of topics, but some individuals are included because they were "inarguably important" or because they "represented a tendency." Approximately one-third of the entries are biographical, covering Alexander Graham Bell, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and others. Among the Americans who are included are Horatio Alger, Susan B. Anthony, John James Audubon, and P. T. Barnum.
The 350 black-and-white illustrations are generally well chosen. Further reading lists attached to entries include primary as well as secondary material and some Web pages, many from the Victorian Web [http://www.victorianweb.org]. Appendixes provide an undated map of the British Isles (a map of Victorian London would have been a nice addition), selected primary documents, and selected Web resources. See also references facilitate access, as does a "Synoptic Table of Contents" that classifies entry headings under broad topics such as "Biographies" and "Sexuality and Gender." The index is quite detailed. For example, under diseases and epidemics, in addition to the main entry, there are 37 other page references, from Boer War to worldwide smallpox outbreak (1871-73), along with see also references to cholera and venereal disease.
Though a few contributors employ academic jargon, writing is very accessible on the whole. Adding to the set's readability is the strong emphasis on matters of daily life. Entries such as Cabs and omnibuses, Governesses, Hair, Lighting, and London Season provide value for fans of Victorian fiction, as well as for students and researchers. The encyclopedia is recommended for academic and large public libraries. RBB
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