The Victorians

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Bi-weekly; Week 2; Tuesday; 10 am – 12 pm

To many the idea of the Victorian Era conjures up images formed by literature and popular culture – the two extremes of Young Victoria and Oliver Twist. But noted historian A. N. Wilson refers to it as the “period of the most radical transformation ever seen by the world.” Victorian Britain ruled the waves and vast tracts of the globe’s surface, and her industries dominated the markets of the world. It was a time of innovation and exploration; empire building; global trade; the growth of democracy, the flourishing of arts and literature; and unimagined developments in science, technology and engineering. But it was also a time of rapidly growing urban and industrial centres; of crowds, dirt, disease, and crime; of great opportunities for the growing middle class along with unimaginable poverty.

Join us to explore the profound transformation of the era – changes that continue to impact us today; and to investigate the hypocrisy of an age when public face and private reality were very different.

Each participant will be required to give a 20-minute presentation on a topic that particularly interests them.


Cathy Spark ( is a lifelong student of social history, with a particular passion for the Victorian era. She loves to share her interests with other curious learners and enjoys the spirited discussion that an engaging presentation engenders. She has facilitated a number of workshops over the last 5 years on topics as varied as the Cultural History of Food and Drink, Conspiracy Theories, and Art Crime.

Jeff Biteen ( is a retired Human Resources executive and history buff, with a special interest in political, diplomatic and military history. He previously co-facilitated the Makers of the French Revolution and Europe Between the Wars workshops.

Workshop Materials:


Some topic ideas