1837 – 1901    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

Cecilia Mansford

Cecilia is a friend of Florence Nightingale. She tells the tale of a comfortable Victorian home. Whilst enjoying a comfortable lifestyle she is aware of life for poorer folk. Cecilia is a good choice for topics on Florence Nightingale and wealthy Victorian town life.

Victoria Mansford

Victoria was named after the Queen. Her side of the family have fallen on ‘hard times’. With no dowry she has little prospect of marrying and so works as a governess. Her tale is of Victorian childhood and nursery life. Or, if you prefer, holidays by the seaside. Victoria is a good choice for topics on childhood, toys, Victorian holidays by the sea and relationships between servants and their ‘families’.

There are so many possibilities for a Victorian topic – focus on a famous person in the context of how they lived; compare lifestyles; looking at inventions.

Popular choices are:

  • Life in wealthy Victorian times – clothes, hygiene, food, leisure, homes, healthcare, social customs and etiquette
  • Contrasts between poor and rich children’s life styles.
  • The Great Exhibition
  • A school day
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Mary Seacole
  • Charles Dickens
  • Beatrix Potter
  • Mary Anning

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Historical Context

Dickens’ opening line to his story about 1790’s can just as easily describe Victorian England. On the one hand a time of peace, prosperity, and international growth. The other, a struggle with overcrowding, inadequate urban infrastructure, smog and appalling working conditions. The speed of technological and social change was increasing. Each advancement becoming the step to next; driven in no small part by tensions between those that had and those that did not.