A brief note: My Victorian literature exam list focuses on texts that work within the gothic mode. Texts may be removed. I’ve also included some literary criticism in order to concentrate my readings on schools of thought that interest me.

I am blogging my notes as I take them and will link each texts to its corresponding notes.


Questions for Guiding Discussion


Novels and Short Stories

Mary Shelley

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818/23/31)


Thomas De Quincey

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821)


Sir Walter Scott

“The Tapestried Chamber” (1828)


Unknown, probably James Malcolm Rymer or Thomas Peckett Prest

The String of Pearls: A Romance (1846/7)


William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair (1848)


Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre (1847)

Villette (1853)


Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights (1847)


Anne Bronte

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)


Charles Dickens

Hard Times (1854)

Our Mutual Friend (1865)


Elizabeth Gaskell

“The Old Nurse’s Story” (1852)

“Lois the Witch” (1859)

“The Grey Woman” (1861)



Edward Bulwer-Lytton

“The Haunted and the Haunters” or “The House and the Brain” (1859)


Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White (1860)

The Moonstone (1868)


George Eliot

The Mill on the Floss (1860)

Middlemarch (1872)


Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Lady Audley’s Secret (1862)


Anthony Trollope

The Way We Live Now (1875)


Olive Schreiner

 The Story of an African Farm (1883)


Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

“The Body Snatcher” (1884)


H. Rider Haggard

King Solomon’s Mines (1885)


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sign of Four (1890)

“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (1892)

“The Adventure of the Final Problem” (1893)

“The Adventure of the Crooked Man” (1893)


William Morris

News from Nowhere (1890)


Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)


Arthur Machen

The Great God Pan (1890/94)

“The Inmost Light” (1894)


Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891)

Jude the Obscure (1895)


H.G Wells

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)

“The Truth About Pyecraft” (1903)

“The Empire of the Ants” (1905)


Bram Stoker

Dracula (1897)


Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness (1899)


Rudyard Kipling

The Phantom Rickshaw and Other Tales (1888)

Kim (1901)


Algernon Blackwood

Smith: An Episode in a Lodging House” (1906)

“The Willows” (1907)




Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)



Thomas De Quincey

“On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts” (1827)


Thomas Carlyle

from Past and Present (1843): “Midas,” “Gospel of Mammonism,” “Labor,” “Democracy,” and “Captains of Industry”


John Ruskin

from The Stones of Venice (1851-53): “The Nature of the Gothic”


Frederick Engels

from The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845): “Preface,” “Introduction,” “The Industrial Proletariat,” “The Great Towns,” and “Competition”


Charles Darwin

from On the Origin of Species (1859):  “Struggle for Existence” and “Recapitulation and Conclusion”


from The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)


John Stuart Mill

On Liberty (1859)


Matthew Arnold

“The Function of Criticism at the Present Time” (1864)


John Henry Cardinal Newman

from Apologia Pro Vita Sua: “Note A. Liberalism” (1864)


Karl Marx

from Capital: Volume I (1867, translated 1887)



Alfred, Lord Tennyson

“Mariana” (1830) “The Lady of Shalott” (1832) “The Lotos-Eaters,” (1832) “The Palace of Art” (1832, revised 1842) “Ulysses” (1842) In Memoriam A.H.H (1850) “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854)

from Idylls of the King (1869): “The Coming of Arthur,” “The Holy Grail” and “Guinevere”


Robert Browning

“Porphyria’s Lover” (1836) “My Last Duchess” (1842) “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” (1842) “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” (1855) “Love Among the Ruins” (1855) “Fra Lippo Lippi” (1855) “Caliban upon Setebos” (1864)

from The Ring and the Book (1868-69): Book I


Emily Bronte

“The night is darkening round me” (1837, 1902) “I’m happiest when most away” (1838, 1910) “Remembrance” (1846)


Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“The Cry of the Children” (1843) “To George Sand: A Desire” (1844) “To George Sand: A Recognition” (1844) “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” (1850)

from “Aurora Leigh” (1856): Books II and V

from “Sonnets from the Portuguese” (1850): #13: “And wilt thou have me fashion into speech,” #24: “Let the world’s sharpness, like a clasping knife,” #28: “My Letters! All dead paper mute and white,” # 38: “First time he kissed me, he but only kissed,” #43: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”


Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Jenny” (1848, 1870) “The Blessed Damozel” (1850) “The Burden of Ninevah” (1856) “Eden Bower” (1869)


Matthew Arnold

“Isolation, To Marguerite” (1849, 1857) “The Buried Life” (1852) “Philomela” (1853) “The Scholar Gipsy” (1853) “Dover Beach” (1867) Christina Rossetti “In an Artist’s Studio” (1856) “Goblin Market” (1862) ‘The Convent Threshold” (1862) “Song (‘When I am dead, my dearest’)” (1862) “Remember” (1862) “Winter: My Secret” (1862)


George Meredith

Selections from “Modern Love” (1862)


Algernon Charles Swinburne

“The Triumph of Time” (1866) “Hymn to Proserpine” (1866) “Anactoria” (1866) “The Leper” (1866)


Augusta Webster “A Castaway” (1870) “Circe” (1870) from “Mother and Daughter” Sonnet Cycle (1895): #1: “Young laughters, and my music! Aye till now,” #2: “That she is beautiful is not delight,” #3: “I watch the sweet grave face in timorous thought,” #6: “Sometimes, as young things will, she vexes me,” #10: “Love’s Counterfeit,” #11: “Love’s Mourner”


Amy Levy

“Xantippe” (1881) “Epitaph (On a Commonplace Person Who Died in Bed)” (1884) “A Minor Poet” (1884)



Rudyard Kipling

“The White Man’s Burden” (1899)



Patrick Brantlinger

Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830-1914 (1988)


Allen MacDuffie

Victorian Literature, Energy, and the Ecological Imagination (2014)


Jesse Oak Taylor

The Sky of Our Manufacture: The London Fog in British Fiction from Dickens to Woolf (2016)


Emily Steinlight

Populating the Novel: Literary Form and the Politics of Surplus Life (2018)

Victorian Literature List by Caitlin Duffy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.