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Encyclopedia of the Victorian era /

Other Authors: Adams, James Eli., Pendergast, Tom., Pendergast, Sara.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Danbury, Conn. : Grolier Academic Reference, 2004
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Review by Choice Review

Grolier's scholarly but far from dry encyclopedia covers events, cultural trends, and things Victorian. Entries ranging in length from a few paragraphs to several pages are written by experts, treat topics from William Acton to zoological gardens, and seek to encompass the important issues, people, and events of the Victorian era. Wisely, the work does not confine itself just to England, or to biographical sketches or even to Britain's worldwide empire, but defines "Victorian" more broadly to include famous (and infamous) figures like Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, international trends such as the Aesthetic Movement, and changes in courts and the law in the UK, Canada, and the US. While predictable figures such as Queen Victoria and Benjamin Disraeli appear, so too do social history topics such as the sporting life, penny dreadfuls, and cholera. The work includes a subject index, a synoptic table of contents, a directory of contributors, cross-references within articles, and suggestions for further reading after each entry. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. College and graduate-level libraries as well as larger public libraries serving history buffs. A. B. Johnson SUNY College at Cortland

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

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 Agriculture0 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, Electricity0 , Gardens and garden design, Gothic revival, Music halls, Race and racism, Railways0 , and Sanitation.0 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 also0 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,0 in addition to the main entry, there are 37 other page references, from Boer War0 to worldwide smallpox outbreak0 (1871-73)0 , along with see also0 references to cholera0 and venereal disease. 0 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, Lighting0 , and London Season0 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 Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

This superb interdisciplinary encyclopedia focuses on Great Britain during Victoria's reign, from 1837 to 1901. However, topics that come before and after are included when they shed light on the period. Also covered are the influences Victorian Britain had outside the country (as seen in entries on Jamaica and New Zealand, for instance) and the outside forces that influenced Victorian culture (e.g., P.T. Barnum and Frederick Olmsted). Adams (Cornell Univ.) began by assembling an editorial team, primarily from prestigious American universities, to create a list of appropriate topics. The range is impressive, from straightforward subjects, such as pets and soap, to more abstract ones, such as evolution and industrialization. The resulting 627 signed and alphabetically arranged entries, written by 195 experts, are engagingly handled, explain the important aspects of each topic, and show how it fits into an understanding of Victorian culture. Peppered with black-and-white illustrations, these entries vary in length from a few hundred to several thousand words and conclude with lists of further readings. The set ends with an extremely useful and impressive back matter of nearly 400 pages, which consists of primary sources arranged under broad topics, a listing of web resources, a synoptic table of contents, and a detailed index. Bottom Line Although there are several cheaper alternatives, such as Holt's Encyclopedia of the Victorian World, this thorough work is highly recommended for all libraries. It is accessible enough for upper-level high school students and history buffs while remaining comprehensive enough to appeal to scholars.-Ann Carlson, River Forest, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.