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Charles Dickens

His famous novels are The Pickwick Papers (1837), Oliver Twist (1838, was first published with
the title Oliver Twist with a subtitle, The Parish boys Progress ), Nicholas Nickleby (1839),
The Old Curiosity Shop (1841), Barnaby Rudge (1841), Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son
(1844), David Copperfield (1850) , Bleak House (1853), Hard Times (1854), Little Dorrit
(1857), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1861), Our Mutual Friend (1865),
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished, 1870). Apart from these he has also written many
short stories, essays and travel books. Dickens has given his many literary contributions with the
pen name Bos .
The novels of Dickens were also the most important product and expression in fiction of the
humanitarian movement of the Victorian era. From first to last he was a novelist with a purpose.
He was a staunch champion of the weak, the outcast and the oppressed, and in almost all his
novels he attacked one abuse or the other in the existing system of things. It is, therefore, no
exaggeration to say that humanitarianism is the key-note of his work, and on account of the
tremendous popularity that he enjoyed as a novelist, Dickens may justly be regarded as one of
the foremost reformers of his age.

William Makepeace Thackeray


Thackery imitated the tradition of Fielding and Goldsmith. His novels are concerned with
the higher state of life and people instead of poor. He presents the picture of eighteenth-century
English society. His characters are not produced in order to express violent feelings but we find
strange qualities in his characters. His best known novel 'Vanity Fair' is about the adventure of
two girls. Apart from his historical novels he wrote 'Pendennis' and 'The Newcomes'.
Thackeray is, first of all, a realist, who paints life as he sees it. As he says of himself, I have no
brains above my eyes; I describe what I see. He gives in his novels accurate and true picture
especially of the vicious elements of society. As he possesses an excessive sensibility, and a
capacity for fine feelings and emotions like Dickens, he is readily offended by shams, falsehood
and hypocrisy in society. The result is that he satirises them. It was with the publication of Vanity
Fair in 1846 that the English reading public began to understand what a star had risen in English
letters.

THOMAS HARDY
The greatest novelist of the later Victorian period was Thomas Hardy. His well-known novels
are The Desperate Remedies (1871, first novel), Under the Greenwood Tree (1872, first Wessex

novel), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of
the Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the DUrbervilles (1891), Jude the Obscure (1895, last novel).
Apart from these he has also written poems and short stories.
On account of Hardys philosophy of a malignant power ruling the universe which thwarts and
defeats man at every step, his novels are full of coincidences. The main contribution of Hardy to
the history of the English novel was that he made it as serious a medium as poetry, which could
deal with the fundamental problems of life. His novels can be favourably compared to great
poetic tragedies, and the characters therein rise to great tragic heights. His greatest quality as a
writer is his sincerity and his innate sympathy for the poor and the down-trodden.

Charlotte Bronte
Charlotte Bronte depicted in her novels those strong romantic passions which were generally
avoided by Dickens and Thackeray. She brought lyrical warmth and the play of strong feeling
into the novel. In her masterpiece, Jane Eyre (1847), her dreams and resentments kindle every
page. Her other novels are The Professor, Villette and Shirley. In all of them we find her as a
mistress of wit, irony, accurate observation, and a style full of impassioned eloquence.

Emile Bronte
Emily Bronte was more original than her sister. Though she died at the age of thirty, she wrote a
strange novel, Wuthering Heights, which contains so many of the troubled, tumultuous and
rebellious elements of romanticism. It is a tragedy of love at once fantastic and powerful, savage
and moving, which is considered now as one of the masterpieces of world fiction.

George Eliot
The real name of George Eliot was Mary Ann Evans. For a long time her writings was
exclusively critical and philosophic in character, and it was when she was thirty-eight that her
first work of fiction Scenes of Clerical Life (1857) appeared. It was followed by Adam Bede
(1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1863), and Middlemarch
(1871-72).
In her novels George Eliot takes upon herself the role of a preacher and moraliser. Though
profoundly religious at heart, she was greatly affected by the scientific spirit of the age; and
finding no religious creed or political system satisfactory, she fell back upon duty as the supreme
law of life. In all her novels she shows in individuals the play of universal moral forces, and
establishes the moral law as the basis of human society.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen is the first great English woman Novelist. She raised the whole genre to an e
new level of art. Though she wrote her novels in the troubled years of the French Revolution that
present claim pictures of social life. In her novel she shows a remarkable insight into the relation
between social convention and individual temperament. Some of her great novels include 'Sense
and Sensibility', 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Mansfield Park', 'Emma', 'Persuasion' and so on.
She brought the novel of manners and family life to its highest point of perfection. Her
novels have nothing to do with the ugliness of the outside world. Her knowledge of social life
was very deep and true. She has painted her characters in a remarkable way but the young men in
her novels are less attractive.

Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell


Mrs. Gaskell (1810-65) as a novelist dealt with social problems. She had first-hand
knowledge of the evils of industrialisation, having lived in Manchester for many years. Her
novels Mary Barton (1848) and North and South (1855) give us concrete details of the miserable
plight of the working class. In Ruth (1853) Mrs. Gaskell shows the same sympathy for
unfortunate girls. In Cranford (1853) she gave a delicate picture of the society of a small
provincial town, which reminds us of Jane Austen.

George Meredtith
Another great figure not only in fiction, but in the general field of literature during the later
Victorian period, was George Meredith. The Ordeal of Richard Feveral, which is one of the
earliest of Merediths novels, is also one of his best. Evan Harrington (1861) is full of humorous
situations which arise out of the social snobbery of the Harrington family. Rhoda Fleming
(1865), Sandra Belloni (1864), Harry Richmond (1871) and Beauchamps Career (1876) all
contain the best qualities of Merediths artintellectual brilliance, a ruthless exposure of social
weaknesses, and an occasional poetic intensity of style. In all of them Meredith shows himself as
the enemy of sentimentality. In The Egoists which is the most perfect illustration of what he
meant by comedy, Meredith reached the climax of his art. The novels of Meredith, though
written in a difficult style, have a special message for the modern man who finds himself
enveloped in a depressing atmosphere.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson was a great story-teller and romancer. His first romance entitled Treasure Island
became very popular. It was followed by New Arabian Nights, Kidnapped, The Black Arrow,
which contain romances and mystery stories.Some of his well-known works are - Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde, The Master of Ballantre, Weir of Hermiston etc. The contribution of Stevenson to the
English novel is that he introduced into it romantic adventure.
Some other famous novelists of this age are Charles Kingsley,
Charles Reade, Wilkie Collins and Anthony Trollope.