Media Distribution


The Victorian period lies close to our own, but it is often difficult to comprehend. This thirteen-program series, providing a panoramic yet detail-oriented introduction to Victorian England, is useful to anyone studying the literature or history of the period. Extracts from memoirs, diaries, and letters form the basis for the programs which are illustrated with an extensive collection of archival photographs. Themes such as politics, economics, the social hierarchy and the expanding British Empire are examined. Narrated with fastidious attention to appropriate regional and social accents, the programs relate the realities of everyday life as experienced by history makers and observers, from the petty thief and the common worker to Queen Victoria herself.

The series was written by Alan Thomas, Professor of English, University of Toronto, and assisted by Barbara Fefferman.

The Victorians series won an Award of Merit at the Instructional Media Festival, Canadian Education Showplace 1973.

Art And Society: The Revolt Of William Morris
Journal extracts and letters provide the text for this exploration of the work of the artist William Morris and his political and artistic creeds. Period photographs, reproductions of his fabric designs and close-up details of the medieval nature motifs which dominated his work are shown. Morris designed everything from wallpaper to buildings, always seeking to relieve what he saw as the brutality of mechanization in England's Industrial Revolution.
29 minutes / 1974

An Attachment
Romance in Victorian time had very special characteristics: there were the personal agonies of indecision, the need for parental approval and the plight of being in love but without financial security to offer. These aspects have often been mocked or sentimentalized. This program presents a real-life episode of genteel romance in the life of a warmhearted cleric, Rev Francis Kilvert, using extracts from his diaries and period photographs.
39 minutes / b&w / 1973

The Country Curate
The Reverend Francis Kilvert was one of the most fascinating of the Victorian diarists. Based on his writings, which are full of colourful vignettes conveying in detail the atmosphere of the clerical study and the village world where he lived and worked, this program recreates his unique outlook using archival photographs appropriate to his observations.
30 minutes / b&w / 1975

Going On Stage
The harsh realities of the Victorian stage are revealed by two theatrical performers struggling to establish themselves in professional theatre. The program uses extracts from the diary of an actress and the autobiography of an actor along with period photographs showing characters, costume and stage design. The better opportunities afforded the young man illustrate Victorian society's attitude to women in the theatre.
29 minutes / b&w / 1973

Going To Canada: Government House
For the well-to-do, life in Upper and Lower Canada was uncommonly pleasant. The letters and diaries of Frances Monck, sister-in-law of the first Governor General, provide here an opinionated and aristocratic account of Canada and its personalities on the eve of Confederation. Illustrated with archival photographs, the program captures the unique flavour of her social life as travel, sightseeing and a variety of dinners, dances and social gatherings filled the days of her Canadian visit.
29 minutes / b&w / 1974

Going To Canada: In The Backwoods
For those who arrived in Canada with little in the way of money or possessions, earning a living in the backwoods meant many hardships and only the simplest of pleasures. This program is based on the letters of Anna Leveridge, an English immigrant who with her family pioneered the farmlands of Madoc, Ontario in the 1880's. Archival photographs and drawings vividly portray not only her day to day experiences, but also important historical events, including the advent of penny and parcel post.
29 minutes / b&w / 1974

The Irish Question
While the years of 1845 - 1886 marked the heyday of Victorian England, Ireland was being wrenched both politically and economically from within. Illustrated by period photographs, political cartoons, and sketches, this program recreates the political and social times of Gladstone, Parnell and Salisbury. It focuses on the Potato Famine, mass emigration, tenant evictions and the Fenian Demonstrations that culminated with Prime Minister Gladstone's proposal of the Home Rule Bill and its defeat.
18 minutes / b&w / 1974

London Street Folk Of The 1850's
Mayhew's recordings give a myriad view of the poverty and social lives of the inhabitants of London's streets in the 1850's. Illustrated by photographs and period drawings.
29 minutes / b&w / 1970

Poaching Life
This program looks at the vocation of poaching and at the social and economic conditions which fostered it in the mid 1800's. James Hawker's life as a poacher is reconstructed using excerpts from his autobiography and archival photographs. Included are descriptions of the techniques and dangers of poaching and his political views on why it was not merely an idle pastime but a means of survival for the English peasant class.
26 minutes / b&w / 1973

Queen Victoria Part One: The Young Queen
This portion of the program follows Victoria from the night of her proclamation as Queen through her marriage to Prince Albert, to the establishment of her reign and the death of Albert in 1961. Photographs from the period document the social and political atmosphere and the national affairs of the day including references to the Canadian boundary dispute, the Irish crimes, the Crimean War, and the Great Exhibition.
31 minutes / b&w / 1974

Queen Victoria Part Two: The Royal Widow
This portion of the program focuses on the latter half of Queen Victoria's reign. It shows her bereavement being marked outwardly by frequent retreats from political and social affairs, while in her journal she expressed the fear and loneliness of a grieving wife and the resolute determination to preserve her duties as Albert would have wished. Photographs and drawings illustrate highlights of the Industrial Revolution, the Franco-German War, and the garnering of India to the Empire.
29 minutes / b&w / 1974

The Railwaymen
An important aspect of the Industrial Revolution was its emphasis on more efficient methods of transportation. This program traces the development of a Victorian railway line from its planning and construction stages and shows how maintenance and traffic control were carried out. Period photos highlight the personal stories of an engineer, a navvy, a signal master and social consequences of Victorian technology is explored.
29 minutes / b&w / 1973

Victorian Photography
This program examines photography in the Victorian era. It includes a brief history of the daguerreotype; examines the impact of portrait photography on Victorian society; and explores the relationship between Victorian photography and pre-Raphaelite art. Illustrated by Victorian photographs. Compiled by Alan Thomas.
36 minutes / b&w / 1972

Vie De Boheme
Based on George Moore's vivid accounts in Confessions of a Young Man, this program contrasts the artistic meccas of Paris and London in the 1870's. Photographs and drawings of the era's artistic personalities, art and posters from the period accompany narrative excerpts from Moore's book. The first exhibition of impressionist painters, the literary doctrine of naturalism, and British Music Hall are explored among other representative aspects of the era.
27 minutes / b&w / 1973

Voices From The Ranks
Based on the memoirs of several common soldiers, this program recreates the adventures and hardships of life in Queen Victoria's military service. Using archival photos, it traces the expansion and defence of the British Empire in India, the Crimea, Abyssinia and south Africa.
28 minutes / b&w / 1973