Victorian England was, in Tennyson's phrase, an awful moment of transition. A society based largely on agriculture, traditional values, and social hierarchies was transformed into one both stimulated and unsettled by unprecedented growth in science, technology, industry, urbanization and population, and profound questioning of politics, morality, and religion. Its writers energetically revealed their responses to the times and the effect that such a rapidly changing world had upon them. This collection of some of the best, wittiest, and most unusual Victorian writing uses careful observations and acute comments to bring to life the variety, the energy, and the often harsh reality of the society that produced and inspired one of England's most famous authors. In addition to Dickens, Pritchard uses selections that cover all aspects of Victorian life, including Henry Mayhew (on the London poor), Elizabeth Gaskell and Engels (on the industrial classes and conditions), William Cobbett and Francis Kilvert (on rural life), Trollope (on Church life), Huxley and Darwin (on science and evolution), and Carlyle, Ruskin, and Matthew Arnold (on art and culture). He also provides excerpts from visiting commentators such as the Americans Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville. Together with 50 illustrations, these selections combine to express the spirit of what Elizabeth Barrett Browning called this live, throbbing age, that brawls, cheats, maddens, calculates, [and] aspires.