1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Victorian Long List

The PhD Oral Examination

in the

Victorian Period

(updated 15-November-2007)


Choose roughly 40 of the following units, with substantial selections from at least three of the literary genres, and with a view to proper balance between early and late decades. The lists are intended to give you a broad scope of the writers in the period but not to be exhaustive. Give some thought to changing perceptions of Victoriana since 1901. Consulting recent anthologies should show how authors’ relative standing has shifted and so help you put your own selection in perspective. Please also choose an additional six works of criticism.


Poetry :

Your selection should combine entire volumes or long poetic forms with shorter lyric choices.

  • Choose among the following, : Matthew Arnold, William Barnes, Emily Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, James Buchanan, Lewis Carroll, Arthur Hugh Clough, Eliza Cook, John Davidson, Ernest Dowson, Edward FitzGerald, Michael Field, Dora Greenwell, Thomas Hardy, Felicia Hemans, G. M. Hopkins, A. E. Housman, Jean Ingelow, Lionel Johnson, John Keble, Rudyard Kipling, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Walter Savage Landor, Edward Lear, Amy Levy, George Meredith, Alice Meynell, William Morris, Coventry Patmore, Adelaide Procter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, A. C. Swinburne, Alfred Tennyson, Francis Thompson, James Thomson, Augusta Webster, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats.



Fiction :


  • Harrison Ainsworth, G. M. Ballantyne, Lady Blessington, M.E. Braddon, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Samuel Butler, Lewis Carroll, Wilkie Collins, Marie Corelli, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, Arthur Conan Doyle, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Gissing, Mrs. Gore, Sarah Grand, Rider Haggard, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Kingsley, Vernon Lee, Eliza Lynn Linton, Harriet Martineau, George McDonald, George Meredith, George Moore, William Morris, Margaret Oliphant, Thomas Love Peacock, Charles Reade, Olive Schreiner, R. L. Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Anthony Trollope, William Thackeray, Mrs. Humphry Ward, H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Ellen Wood, Charlotte Yonge.


Non-Fictional Prose:

N.B.: Given the importance of the periodical press in this period, one or more periodicals might serve in place of an “author” in this category.


  • Matthew Arnold, Walter Bagehot, Annie Besant, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Charles Bradlaugh, John Bright, Josephine Butler, Thomas Carlyle, Frances Power Cobbe, Richard Cobden, Charles Darwin, George Eliot, W.E. Gladstone, Edmund Gosse, T. H. Huxley, Anna Jameson, Vernon Lee, T. B. Macaulay, Harriet Martineau, Henry Mayhew, Alice Meynell, J. S. Mill, William Morris, John Henry Newman, Margaret Oliphant, Walter Pater, Augustus Pugin, John Ruskin, Samuel Smiles, Herbert Spenser, Robert Louis Stevenson, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Oscar Wilde.



Students may optionally include a list of no more than 6 scripts by the following playwrights, reducing their selection from the other literary genres accordingly. Verse dramas, if offered, should appear under the Poetry rubric.


Dion Boucicault, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Wilkie Collins, Alexandre Dumas, W.S. Gilbert, Douglas Jerrold, Henry Arthur Jones, James Sheridan Knowles, Arthur Wing Pinero, James Robinson Planché, Tom Robertson, E.V. Seebohm, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Shirley, George R. Sims, Tom Taylor, Oscar Wilde 



Secondary Works

These are recommended critical readings on the Victorian period. Students should choose six and be prepared to answer questions about them. Secondary works not listed here may be selected in consultation with the area committee chair.


  • Richard Altick, The English Common Reader;  The Presence of the Present. Topics of the Day in Victorian Fiction
  • Amanda Anderson, Tainted Souls and Painted Faces: The Rhetoric of Fallenness in Victorian Culture
  • Ann Ardis, New Women, New Novels
  • Francoise Basch, Relative Creatures
  • Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel
  • Nina Auerbach, Woman and the Demon: The Life of a Victorian Myth
  • Gillian Beer, Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot, and 19th-Century Fiction
  • Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism
  • Joseph Bristow, ed., The Fin-de-Siècle Poem: English Literary Culture and the 1890s
  • Jerome H. Buckley, The Victorian Temper
  • Karen Chase and Michael Levenson, The Spectacle of Intimacy: A Public Life for the Victorian Family
  • Carol Christ, Victorian and Modern Poetics
  • Phillip Davis, The Victorians
  • Linda Dowling, Language and Decadence in the Victorian Fin de Siècle
  • Jonathan Freedman, Professions of Taste: Henry James, British Aestheticism and Commodity Culture
  • Catherine Gallagher, The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction 1832-1867
  • Robin Gilmour, The Victorian Period
  • Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination
  • Christopher Herbert, Culture and Anomie: Ethnographic Imagination in the Nineteenth Century
  • John Holloway, The Victorian Sage
  • Walter Houghton, The Victorian Frame of Mind
  • John Kucich and Diane Sadoff, eds., Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century
  • Robert Langbaum, The Poetry of Experience: The Dramatic Monologue in Modern Literary Tradition
  • Elizabeth Langland, Nobody’s Angels: Middle-Class Women and Domestic Ideology in Victorian Culture
  • Angela Leighton, Victorian Women Poets: Writing Against the Heart
  • George Levine, The Realistic Imagination: English Fiction from Frankenstein to Lady Chatterley
  • Joseph Litvak, Strange Gourmets: Sophistication, Theory, and the Novel
  • Richard Maxwell, ed., The Victorian Illustrated Book
  • Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest
  • Martin Meisel, Realizations: Narrative, Pictorial, and Theatrical Arts in Nineteenth-Century England
  • D. A. Miller, The Novel and the Police
  • J. Hillis Miller, The Disappearance of God: Five Nineteenth-Century Writers
  • Jeff Nunokawa, The Afterlife of Property: Domestic Security and the Victorian Novel
  • Terry Otten, The Deserted Stage: The Search for Dramatic Form in Nineteenth-Century England
  • Mary Poovey, Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England
  • Yopie Prins, Victorian Sappho
  • Thomas R. Richards, The Commodity Culture of Victorian Britain
  • Bruce Robbins, The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below
  • Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire
  • Elaine Showalter, A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists or Sexual Anarchy
  • John Sutherland, Victorian Novelists and Publishers; Victorian Fiction: Writers, Publishers, Readers
  • Herbert F. Tucker, ed., A Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture
  • Judith Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delights: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late Victorian London
  • Raymond Williams, Culture and Society, 1780-1950