Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Victorians” as Want to Read:
The Victorians
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Victorians

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  133 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In The Victorians, Jeremy Paxman offers his personal take on the most important and influential period of our national past. Using the paintings of the era as his starting point - in his view, the one mode of Victorian art yet to be rescued from indifference - Paxman explores themes of family, urban life, industry, empire, and imagination to uncover truths (and explode som ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 12th 2009 by BBC Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Victorians, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Victorians

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 343)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 30, 2014 Bloodorange rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder how many other passages in the book are plagiarized. Here is the one I found:

Paxman, The Victorians, p. 215:

"Victoria died at Osborne on 22 January 1901 and, when the immediate shock had passed (after all, practically no one, except the very old, could recall what life was like without her), there came amid all other feelings a sense of relief, the prospect of a new sovereign and of a new century. As Virginia Woolf, emancipated from the Stephen family when she moved to Bloomsbury in 19
Apr 09, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nf
I loved this: A history book with pictures or an art book with history. Either way it worked perfectly. It made me look again at a few paintings I already knew, introduced me to lots of others I hadn't seen, made me think about the impact of the art as a mass media form and consider more carefully how it reflects/depicts/constructs our view of culture and society. Great to see the John Martin exhibition at the Tate in Dec 2011 having read the book. (ie Art as a public spectacle). The one think I ...more
May 01, 2016 Matilda rated it it was amazing
It's just one of the best and most complete book I've ever read about the Victorian Era.
Durba Roy Kini
Apr 06, 2016 Durba Roy Kini rated it really liked it
‘The Victorians’ by Jeremy Paxman, a BBC journalist, is a historic account of art, primarily canvas paintings, that takes us though the social, economic and political tides of the Victorian era.
With Paxman’s journalistic background, the book is a great attempt at weaving a beautiful story around art and artistes as a means to reflect on the Victorian society in the period 1830 - 1900.

In an era when television and social media was unheard of, Art had an important role to play in capturing the mo
Feb 24, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
An interesting look at Victorian history through the art of the day. Unfortunately not all the pictures mentioned are plates in the book. Of those that are; some are too small to see the details mentioned or spread over two pages with the central detail lost in the central fold.
Although split into sections it still felt a bit chaotic/disordered - I hadn't originally realised this was a TV series - I'm left wondering if there was a degree of repetition that worked in an ongoing series but is less
Miss Lemon
Jun 03, 2016 Miss Lemon rated it it was amazing
I wish, I wish there were more books like this one! Jeremy describes the Victorians through the art of the era. Who doesn't want to have illustrations to history drawn by the people that lived the moment? Paxman is riviting in his description of the artists, the times, and the news of the day that shaped it all. Gotta read!!!
Vanessa Wester
Jul 31, 2014 Vanessa Wester rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to be able to go to London, whilst in the middle of reading this, and see some of the art work featured in this book.

I really enjoyed the descriptions and I found the explanations helped Victorian Britain come to life in a way I had not considered.

A great, insightful read.
Nov 08, 2012 Sasha rated it really liked it
"Victorians" by Jeremy Paxman is interesting look at certain era when paintings were reflecting & shaping public opinions. In the days before TV, paintings were re-printed and sold by thousands, some gaining such notoriety, fame and success that people lined in front of museums and galleries to see them. It is very interesting book, discussing how public taste slowly changed and whatever effect Charles Dickens had achieved with his books, some painters helped with their art, pointing at less ...more
Interesting romp through Victorian paintings - the downside being that not all the paintings discussed were illustrated and those that were although inserted as plates, were squashed two or more to a page so that you couldn't see much of the detail referred to.
I love reading about art and history, especially when the two are combined, but I have two main criticisms with this book. Because the images of the paintings are lumped together into two sections, there is a lot of flipping back and forth while reading, which really disrupts the flow. Second, there are a substantial number of paintings that are discussed but not pictured, which I found incredibly frustrating.

A more even spacing of the images, and the inclusion of images of ALL the paintings cov
Sep 11, 2010 Burcu rated it really liked it
This was quite fun to read. Looking at the social history of Victorian England as it is represented in paintings takes the generally manifest dryness out of reading history. I not only loved looking at the paintings and tried to see how a culture is presented, but also found it highly accessible as a piece of popular history. Mind you, this is probably not for either the expert historian or the expert art-historian. It's more for dilettantes like myself.
Daniel Kukwa
Mar 29, 2011 Daniel Kukwa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Disappointing. Not necessarily in the text, but the use of art to showcase the Victorian world isn't as exciting...or it looked on the shelf of the local bookstore. Flashes of interest, but in the end, I found it surprisingly dull and listless. I'm still looking for a definitive condensed Victorian overview. "The Victorians" ISN'T it.
Gemma Correll
Sep 10, 2012 Gemma Correll rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
This book needs to be read sitting next to a computer, so that you can google each painting as it is mentioned. (Maybe the hardback version is better, but the images in the paperback are frustratingly sparse and also quite tiny.) A good read though, if you're into the Victorians... those crazy bastards.
Meredith Stranges
May 31, 2013 Meredith Stranges rated it it was amazing
Really awesome, completely engrossing. I love the Victorians and portraiture, so this was an excellent combination for me. I also had the great fortune to see Paxman give a talk on the subject at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival, which made the book (which he signed for me) even more enjoyable.
Andy Emery
Aug 19, 2013 Andy Emery rated it really liked it
An interesting view of the Victorian scene through the medium of paintings. Very illuminating for me, and has encouraged me to read more, and developed an interest in the painters of the time. Pity about the small size of the painting illustrations in the paperback copy I read.
A good introduction to the personality of the age, told largely through the art of the age, art which has been traditionally a bit unfairly underrated. It is a brief, well written book, a good overview of Victorian art and psyche.
Samuel Jewell
Oct 22, 2013 Samuel Jewell rated it really liked it
The Victorians will give anyone new to art a wonderful understanding of how it may be be used as a historical source, whilst also providing a light dusting of dry whit to what is an already well trodden subject matter.
Apr 24, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
A broad overview of Victorian culture via its paintings - could be an excellent introduction to the period. As with "Empire," his style is anecdotal, which makes for great travel or before-bed reading.
Apr 15, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it
An excellent and (naturally given the subject) lavishly illustrated companion to the television series. So what if Paxman didn't write it all himself - at least he admits it!

Highly recommended.
Stuart Jennings
Jun 15, 2013 Stuart Jennings rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An absorbing mix of social and art history written in flowing and engaging prose. Illustrated well throughout, though sometimes larger illustrations would have served the text better
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jul 24, 2011 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
This could have been good, if he had turned it more into a story of the times instead of a compilation of the times. Does that make sense? The artwork was of course lovely.
Sep 18, 2011 Bea rated it liked it
Great introduction into Victorian society. Not knowing a lot about paintings or painting, this book is a great way of appreciating art in a new way. I'd recommend it.
Stephanie Matthews
Sep 04, 2012 Stephanie Matthews rated it really liked it
I have read this book before, and watched the TV series. It's both educational and entertaining but you do need to like the subject before you pick it up.
Sarah Albany
Sep 13, 2013 Sarah Albany rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, art
A lovely sweep across lots of different works. I wouldn't normally prefer the TV series to the book, but I think it worked better.
Oct 01, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it
I like Jeremy Paxman, and I've enjoyed my trips to art galleries (especially Leeds City) even more since reading this.
Mar 19, 2010 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: books-of-2010
Good. I like Art history and this was quite good as a popular go at it.
Vicki marked it as to-read
Jun 18, 2016
Shirin marked it as to-read
Jun 16, 2016
Hamida marked it as to-read
Jun 15, 2016
Crosaslandahhotmail.Com marked it as to-read
Jun 13, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Victorians
  • Inventing the Victorians
  • The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century
  • Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga
  • The Decadent Reader: Fiction, Fantasy, and Perversion from Fin-de-Siècle France
  • Colonialism/Postcolonialism
  • Turner
  • Charles I: A Life of Religion, War and Treason
  • Praeterita: The Autobiography Of John Ruskin
  • Flesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul
  • Bedlam: London and its Mad
  • Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives Of The Pre Raphaelites
  • Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy
  • Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial, and a Self-Made Woman
  • Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870
  • The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital
  • The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites
  • The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana
Jeremy Dickson Paxman is a British journalist, author and television presenter. He has worked for the BBC since 1977. He is noted for a forthright and abrasive interviewing style, particularly when interrogating politicians. His regular appearances on the BBC2's Newsnight programme have been criticised as aggressive, intimidating, condescending and irreverent, and applauded as tough and incisive.
More about Jeremy Paxman...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »