The History of the Post-Victorian Period

The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
The Romantic Period
The Victorian Period
The Post-Victorian Period
The Pre-Atomic Period
The Nuclear Age

Some determining factors of the mood and temperament of this period were: in the 1890's popular education allowed everyone to read and write while the hunger to devour written material grew at a phenomenal pace. Book production and books in serialized form in local newspapers skyrocketed. Soon supply and demand turned book production into a lucrative business. Readership increased while profits soared. Literature was no longer limited to an art form for only the landed gentry and the well-educated; it had finally become democratic. From the beginning of this period until long after the turn of the century, the type of material covered by novelists expanded to the point that it had become eclectic. Anything and everything came under their scrutiny. All aspects of life were looked at and all experiences qualified as legitimate subject matter. Contemporary themes took preference over content dealing with the past.

Some underlying concepts that describe what motivated the writers of this period have to do with the issues that affect modern day society. Popular works began to compete with literary works for sales. Authors who chose to write for an educated, critical reading public vied with authors who wrote for direct popular appeal. It created a tension where the struggle involved form versus content. The main issue became one of literary legitimacy and like today no dominant school emerged. As of today, this battlefield atmosphere exists between what are referred to as pot-boilers and legitimate fiction.

Some of the noted novelists of this period are: Thomas Hardy, William Somerset Maugham, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, D.H. Lawrence, H.G. Wells, Edith Wharton, E.M. Forster and Anatole France.