By Lara Baker Whelan
This ebook demonstrates how representations of the Victorian suburb in mid- to late-nineteenth century British writing occasioned a literary sub-genre particular to this era, one who tried to reassure readers that the suburb used to be a spot the place outsiders should be managed and the place middle-class values should be enforced. Whelan explores the dissonance created by way of the diversities among the suburban excellent and suburban realities, spotting the endurance of that excellent within the face of plentiful proof that it was once rarely discovered. She discusses facts from fundamental and secondary resources approximately perceptions and realities of suburban dwelling, displaying what it intended to reside in a "real" Victorian suburb. The ebook additionally demonstrates how the suburban perfect (with its components of privateness, cleanliness, rus in urbe, and respectability), in its relation to culturally embedded principles in regards to the attractive and Picturesque, received the sort of powerful foothold within the Victorian heart type that considering its failure prompted severe nervousness. Whelan is going directly to hint the ways that this nervousness is represented in literature.
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Extra info for Class, Culture and Suburban Anxieties in the Victorian Era (Routledge Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature)
A chatty suburban guide written by Clark William Spencer appeared in 1881, entitled The Suburban Homes of London. ” The genesis of the guide, Spencer says, was a letter from Sir Robert Peel asking why there was 22 Class, Culture and Suburban Anxieties in the Victorian Era not “a good book . . ” But Spencer adds to this a concern for “the stream of arrivals from the country and from all parts of the world who are seeking a home near London” (vi). For this broad group, Spencer hopes his book will provide “hints social, religious, sanitary, and fi nancial, in such a manner as to help the stranger to choose a position suitable to his means and to his taste .
The extent to Where There Is No Profligacy, Drunkeness or Crime 41 which the urban poor were demonized as everything the middle class was not is directly linked to the idea of the suburbs as a safe haven, even when the actual suburban experience failed to live up to its billing. In this chapter, I show that the anxiety about the safety and respectability of suburban space encountered in Victorian literature stemmed directly from the ways in which the urban poor were constructed in middle-class literature by the middle classes themselves.
Thompson argues that there can be “no doubt that detached and semidetached houses built for single-family occupation are of the suburban essence, and that such houses did not exist before the nineteenth century” (8). The fi rst housing of this type was planned in the 1790s for St. John’s Wood, but was not built until 1815. Thompson adds, It is arguable, also, that it was only in the setting of this kind of house, where the family could distance itself from the outside world in its own private fortress behind its own garden fence and privet hedge and yet could make a show of outward appearances that was sure to be noticed by the neighbours, that the suburban lifestyle of individual domesticity and group-monitored respectability could take hold.