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Darwin, Tennyson and Their Readers

Darwin, Tennyson and Their Readers

Explorations in Victorian Literature and Science

Edited by Valerie Purton

‘Darwin, Tennyson and Their Readers: Explorations in Victorian Literature and Science’ is an edited collection of essays by Gillian Beer, George Levine and other leading scholars, exploring the interaction between literature and science in the works of Darwin, Tennyson, Huxley and other major figures of the Victorian age. 

Paperback, 192 Pages


January 2014

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

‘Darwin, Tennyson and Their Readers’ is an edited collection of essays from leading authorities in the field of Victorian literature and science, including Gillian Beer and George Levine. The academic study of the interpenetration of Victorian literature and science has grown to be one of the largest and most dynamic areas in Victorian studies: in this collection, leading exponents in the field consider recent developments. The major figures and exact contemporaries, Charles Darwin and Alfred, Lord Tennyson are considered, in the company of John Ruskin, Thomas Huxley, Richard Owen, George Meredith, Oscar Wilde and others. Throughout, the stress is on the ways in which these writers read and were influenced by each other. Our current understanding of this complex cultural dialogue is illustrated here in a single accessible volume of essays by established scholars in this dynamic academic interdiscipline.


‘This is a very carefully and thoughtfully edited book. It has a beautifully sustained focus and offers a sense of mutuality, of a two-way street between literature and science, rather than literature always just reflecting what was happening in the scientific domain. The book is full of revelations and is a pure pleasure to read. I would love to see more books of this kind in our field.’ —Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, University of Oxford

‘As the distinguished scholars writing in “Darwin, Tennyson and Their Readers” show, the lives and careers of Tennyson and Darwin were intriguingly symmetrical. Without simplifying or fining down methods specific to science and literature, the contributors probe these convergences in deftly written essays that will engage and inform a broad array of readers.’ —Linda K. Hughes, Texas Christian University

‘The background to the topic is illuminated in new ways and the texts are explored with interpretative brilliance. This volume enriches our understanding of the complex world of Victorian ideas and creativity – it is a stimulating reading experience, and a very enjoyable one.’ —Marion Shaw, Loughborough University

Author Information

Dr Valerie Purton is Professor of Victorian Literature at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. 


Anthem Nineteenth-Century Series

Table of Contents

Introduction – Valerie Purton; Chapter 1: Tennyson’s ‘Locksley Hall’: Progress and Destitution –Roger Ebbatson; Chapter 2: ‘Tennyson’s Drift’: Evolution in ‘The Princess’ – Rebecca Stott; Chapter 3: History, Materiality and Type in Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’ – Matthew Rowlinson; Chapter 4: Darwin, Tennyson and the Writing of ‘The Holy Grail’ – Valerie Purton; Chapter 5: ‘An Undue Simplification’: Tennyson’s Evolutionary Afterlife – Michiel Nys; Chapter 6: ‘Like a Megatherium Smoking a Cigar’: Darwin’s Beagle Fossils in Nineteenth-Century Popular Culture – Gowan Dawson; Chapter 7: ‘No Such Thing as a Flower […] No Such Thing as a Man’: John Ruskin’s Response to Darwin – Clive Wilmer; Chapter 8: Darwin and the Art of Paradox – George Levine; Chapter 9: Systems and Extravagance: Darwin, Meredith, Tennyson – Gillian Beer; Chapter 10: T. H. Huxley, Science and Cultural Agency – Jeff Wallace; Notes on Contributors

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