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Domesticity in Victorian Literature

Summary and Keywords

When Victorian writers talked about the home, they invoked a range of contested ideas and complex affects about the material and imagined space where self and society meet. Emerging as a fully developed ideology by the middle of the 19th century, domesticity organized beliefs about the family, gender identity, sexuality, subject formation, socioeconomic class, work, civilization, and empire. As an ideology, Victorian domesticity pivots on two figures: the figure of separate spheres and the figure of the domestic woman. The binary logic of separate spheres identifies a private domain where femininity, leisure, feeling, and an ethic of care coalesce in opposition to a public domain where masculinity, work, industry, endurance, and an ethic of achievement preside. Governing the private sphere, the idealized middle-class domestic woman exercises a moral authority that derives from her naturally self-sacrificial spirit, a socioeconomic authority in managing a labor-intensive household, and a creative authority in using the materials of private life representing the family’s social status as a matter of financial and ethical respectability. In this sense, the home provided a rhetoric and narrative form for mapping an individual’s accommodation of social categories and economic forces. For better or worse, the image of the family hearth’s comfort, coziness and good cheer—its status as a haven in a heartless world—presided over a large swath of the Victorian imagination despite ripped patches that exposed domestic violence, sexual transgression, gender subordination, and socioeconomic coercion. For every sentimental Dickensian Christmas feast displaying a repentant miser breaking bread with a disabled waif, there were equally popular stories in which children are beaten, wives incarcerated, and households blighted by industrial suffering and bureaucratic indifference. Victorian domesticity thus relied on both mythologizing and demythologizing energies.

Keywords: domesticity, separate spheres, ideology, woman question, marriage plot, household management, moral superiority, family, middle class, feminine ideal

Domesticity as Cult and Critique

At its zenith by the middle of the 19th century, domestic ideology rested on two ideas: the doctrine of separate spheres, whereby private and public life correlated to a set of binary categories dividing femininity, leisure, and emotion from masculinity, work, and detachment, and the figure of the middle-class domestic woman, whereby household managerial skills joined an ethic of care that idealized the home. While literary representation consistently complicated this picture even during its heyday in the 1840s and 1850s, the second half of the century witnessed a proliferation of critiques that ironized domestic sentimentality.

To say that domesticity occupied a central place in Victorian literary culture is probably to understate its ubiquity: a relentless flood of conduct books, domestic manuals, and ladies’ journals scripted domestic proprieties; poems, songs, newspapers, sermons, and political debates reinforced domestic values; and novels supported domestic desires through marriage plots in which a happy heteronormative household stands as narrative and thematic telos. Queen Victoria herself manipulated domestic iconography in portraits that emphasized her maternity and in her bestselling Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands (1858), a collection of sketches and notes that depicted the royal family’s summers in Scotland as if recorded by a modest housewife. Nevertheless, the capaciousness of Victorian print and entertainment culture also accommodated critiques of domestic ideology: parliamentary debates leading up to the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act unveiled the home as a site of violence and abuse; essays about “the woman question” revealed the economic and emotional plight of myriad unmarried women left out; life writing disclosed paternal tenderness in place of patriarchal detachment; novels identified the home as a site for vocational and eventually professional work. In this sense, domesticity in Victorian literature names an available but remarkably supple discourse.

Cultural Context

A brief look at Queen Victoria’s image making attests to the influence of domestic ideology on all dimensions of cultural life. Domesticity was central to Queen Victoria’s exercise of power, indeed to the invention and propagation of Victorian culture generally. Seeing a happy home life as the source of her popularity and political purchase, the queen disseminated a masterfully curated iconography of herself as a domestic woman, at home with a brood of children, a pack of beloved dogs, and even a spinning wheel.1 Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s The Royal Family in 1846, for example, softens the formality of a court portrait with cherubic children in natural postures and a composition relaxed enough to suggest a snapshot of familial intimacy.2 Exhibited in London before crowds of spectators, Winterhalter’s painting, like many of his depictions of Queen Victoria, was engraved for black-and-white reproduction, whereby it joined other popular paintings as inexpensive prints adorning Victorian homes.3 A testimony to the power of domesticity, the queen’s image thus achieved wide circulation as a vision of maternal tenderness in which royal prerogatives were remastered as family values.

As an ideal image of the domestic woman, Queen Victoria posed not only as a mother but also as a working woman, engaged in that quintessential domestic work, spinning.4 Commissioning photographs, sketches, and statuettes of herself at a spinning wheel, she used domestic imagery to cultivate public affection for a relatable figurehead, conveying a metaphorical sense of the nation state as cared for by a responsible mother.

Like this widely circulated iconography, Queen Victoria’s bestselling memoir Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands substituted accounts of sketching, visiting sick cottagers, and diary writing for her daily correspondence with government ministers,5 as if the queen’s holidays were no different from those of other middle-class women. The equation made the queen popular, but it also endowed domestic life with an overlay of royal privilege. The idea of a middle-class housewife as a queen, like the idea of the home as a privileged space, achieved a great deal of its authority from Queen Victoria’s public relations campaign.6

One of Queen Victoria’s favorite painters, Edwin Henry Landseer, enhanced the image of the queen’s domesticity by including her dogs, beloved pets and symbols of Victorian home life. Indeed, the soaring success of Landseer’s artistic career relied on the popularity of engravings reproduced from his sensitive paintings of animals, skills that he brought to painting the queen’s own dogs.7 The central role “played by the domestic pet as de facto child” in the Victorian family illustrates the home as a space infused with compassion, or what modern audiences see as sentimentality.8 Thus There’s No Place Like Home (1837) brings the pathos characterizing the Victorians’ relationships with their companion animals to bear on the idea of homecoming, a seemingly repentant terrier returning, like the Prodigal Son, to his humble abode.

The title of Landseer’s painting, There’s No Place Like Home, quotes what was heralded as the most popular song in the English-speaking world, “Home Sweet Home.”9 While a typical Victorian drawing room might have displayed an etching of The Royal Family in 1846 or a heartrending engraving of Landseer’s terrier’s domestic return, and while its mantle might have featured a Boehm statuette of Queen Victoria at her spinning wheel, its piano might have held sheet music for “Home Sweet Home.” Written by John Howard Payne, an American actor and playwright working for London’s Drury Lane Theatre, and Henry Bishop, London’s most eminent theatre composer during the 1820s, “Home Sweet Home” celebrates the home in terms of binaries that prioritize the humble over the splendid, the pastoral thatched cottage over the cosmopolitan palace10:

  • An exile from home, splendour dazzles in vain!
  • Oh! Give me my lovely thatch’d cottage again!
  • The birds singing gaily that came at my call,
  • Give me them, with the peace of mind DEARER than all!
  • Home! Sweet home!
  • There’s no place like home!

Like the image of the poor terrier returning to his impoverished barrel, the song’s plaintive lyric romanticizes the home through a sentimentality that uses the trope of return to shift attention from material splendor to the things that presumably matter, a spiritual comfort embedded in the idea of childhood represented by the playful children in Queen Victoria’s portrait or in the idea of unalienated, preindustrial domestic work represented by Queen Victoria’s spinning wheel. As a testimony to the power emanating from this amalgam of values, the erudite art critic and social reformer John Ruskin was enchanted by “Home Sweet Home” despite its status as a low-end music hall staple, and it was widely believed that Henry Bishop became the first knighted musician exclusively due to Queen Victoria’s love of this song.11

Through these items—Queen Victoria’s spinning wheel, Landseer’s prodigal dog, Bishop’s song—the home materializes as an object of worship. In this sense, domesticity must be understood in the context of 19th-century theology. The influence of evangelical thinking about the family during the first half of the century cultivated the view of domestic life as an earthly anticipation of the heavenly home12; even though this “dream of domestic felicity” was challenged at the end of the century when women’s experience of a domestic sphere corresponded to economic disempowerment and social isolation, the sanctity of the home remained a powerful ideal.13 This ideal retained its hold on the Victorian imagination partly due to the influence of German higher criticism. Disseminated in England through George Eliot’s translations of David Strauss’s The Life of Jesus (1846) and Ludwig Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity (1854), new approaches to understanding religious doctrine prompted Victorian intellectuals to subject sacred texts to scientific reason,14 but also to see the sacred alive and well in secular life: while trying to understand, for example, Jesus as a historical figure, Victorians simultaneously turned to the domestic woman as a modern-day saint. George Eliot’s Dorothea Brooke, the heroine of Middlemarch, provides a consummate example of this sacralization of secular forms. While not all Victorian writers celebrating domesticity were deliberately responding to these theological developments, the Puritan emphasis on the household as a spiritual center informed Christian practice even among early 19th-century Anglicans, and the representation of domestic labor as a vocational calling relied on a Protestant ethic of worldly work.15


Advice Literature

The 19th century witnessed the publication of myriad household manuals, conduct books, and domestic periodicals marketed to a female readership and very often written by women authors. While many of these artifacts have been interpreted by Marxist and Foucauldian critics as enacting the ideological hegemony of middle-class power consolidated under the figurehead of the domestic woman blinded to her own incarceration in the private sphere by the consolatory pleasures of fireside comfort and romantic love, their production afforded many women with work—economic support and professional status. Prescribing and celebrating the managerial skills necessary for running a large middle-class household as well as the quasi-artisanal craft of homemaking, much of this literature was ideologically committed to propagating self-sacrifice as an indispensible feminine ideal. Women and Victorian Values, 1837–1910 is a comprehensive and valuable resource of this primary source material (periodicals, journals, cookbooks, advice books, etiquette guides, primers, conduct manuals, and advertisements).16

In interesting and ironic ways, domesticity in Victorian advice literature takes many of its cues from Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 manifesto A Vindication of the Rights of Women. While Wollstonecraft’s argument is considered a touchstone of feminism in its demand for equality between the sexes, its rhetoric called for improving women’s education on the grounds that women were the primary caregivers of the nation’s future citizens. Assuming separate spheres as a fixture of social life, Wollstonecraft promotes the domestic sphere as a cradle of civilization, as an enterprise everyone should care about. Indeed, she repudiates Milton’s infantilization of women by drawing on her authority as someone who has taught and cared for children; arguing against a paternalism that confines women to “knowing no more” as their “happiest knowledge,” Wollstonecraft the domestic woman steps forward: “These are exactly the arguments that I have used to children; but I have added, your reason is now gaining strength, and, till it arrives at some degree of maturity, you must look up to me for advice—then you ought to think, and only rely on God.”17 As a domestic woman, Wollstonecraft deploys her knowledge about childrearing to undermine a patriarchal model of cultural authority in which male privilege emanates from a father’s role as head of the household: children grow up.

Among the most prolific and popular authors of domestic advice literature, Sarah Stickney Ellis published work in the 1840s that constitutes a powerful iteration of domestic ideology. Married to and sometimes influenced by the missionary William Ellis, Ellis combined an ethnographic style of observation with prescriptive content.18 Her titles emphasized familial relationships in the explicit terms of a national mission: The Women of England: Their Social Duties, and Domestic Habits (1839); The Daughters of England: Their Position in Society, Character and Responsibilities (1842); The Wives of England: Their Relative Duties, Domestic Influence, and Social Obligations (1843); The Mothers of England: Their Influence and Responsibility (1844). Such nomenclature pairs responsibility with influence, representing the domestic woman’s power as a function of her caring for others. Domestic management of material and emotional household life thus acquires a spiritual urgency that pertains to the welfare of the nation as a whole, the repeated prepositional phrase “of England” thus framing female group identity (the women, the daughters, the wives, the mothers) through the transformation of a geographic designation into a cultural one. This cultural identity that Ellis’s work colludes in producing defines the middle classes in ways that are useful for understanding the aspirational spirit of domesticity in both the working and aristocratic classes:

Perhaps it may be necessary to be more specific in describing the class of women to which this work relates. It is, then, strictly speaking, to those who belong to that great mass of the population of England which is connected with trade and manufacturers, as well as to the wives and daughters of professional men of limited incomes; or, in order to make the application more direct, to that portion of it who are restricted to the services of from one to four domestics,—who, on the one hand, enjoy the advantages of a liberal education, and, on the other, have no pretension to family rank.19

To be clear, this designation pertains to a broad swath of the national population. It surprisingly places Sir Walter Scott’s heroine Jeanie Deans, a milkmaid who can read and write and who receives the services of a single household servant,20 in the same class as Emma Woodhouse, Jane Austen’s eponymous heroine whose family is rich but untitled.21 Or, to take a later example, the mother of the wealthy industrialist Mr. Thornton in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South belongs to the same class as Margaret Hale, who, despite her elite education, muses over what it means to attend an elegant dinner party with the hands of someone who spent the day dishwashing: “I felt like a great hypocrite tonight, sitting there in my white silk gown, with my idle hands before me, when I remember all the good, thorough, house-work they had done today.”22 Indeed, socioeconomic mobility in both directions is for Ellis one of the reasons the domestic woman’s skills are so essential—she will provide moral grounding for coping with the vicissitudes of fortune as they determine whether a dress needs to be turned out or fresh eggs purchased for guests. It is in Ellis’s work that domestic ideology’s role in the expansiveness of middle-class culture materializes.

One of domesticity’s inventors and defenders, Ellis provides an exemplary portrait of the domestic woman:

“What shall I do to gratify myself—to be admired—or to vary the tenor of my existence?” are not the questions which a woman of right feeling asks on first awaking to the avocations of the day. Much more congenial to the highest attributes of woman’s character, are inquiries such as these: “How shall I endeavour through this day to turn the time, the health, and the means permitted me to enjoy, to the best account? Is any one sick, I must visit their chamber without delay, and try to give their apartment an air of comfort, by arranging such things as the wearied nurse may not have thought of. Is any one about to set off on a journey, I must see that the early meal is spread, or prepare it with my own hands, in order that the servant, who was working late last night, may profit by unbroken rest. Did I fail in what was kind or considerate to any of the family yesterday; I will meet them this morning with a cordial welcome, and show, in the most delicate way I can, that I am anxious to atone for the past. Was any one exhausted by the last day’s exertion, I will be an hour before them this morning, and let them see that their labour is so much in advance. Or, if nothing extraordinary occurs to claim my attention, I will meet the family with a consciousness that, being the least engaged of any member of it, I am consequently the most at liberty to devote myself to the general good of the whole, by cultivating cheerful conversation, adapting myself to the prevailing tone of feeling, and leading those who are least happy, to think and speak of what will make them more so.23

From airing out a sick chamber to providing therapeutic conversation to the depressed, domestic work materializes in Ellis’s illustrations as resolutely organized around the care of others. While this ethic of care will inform a change at the end of the 20th century in conventional wisdom about girls’ moral reasoning (see Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice) and an interest in alternative psychological models for girls’ subject formation (see Nancy Chodorow’s Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory), its correlation in the 19th century to self-sacrifice inspired Virginia Woolf’s famous condemnation of the Angel in the House as a set of internalized expectations that, according to Woolf, the woman writer must “kill” in order to get on with the work of creating art. The internalization of domesticity is evident here in Ellis’s writing: she pitches her dictates in terms of what a “woman of right feeling” says to herself. Using the quotation marks of direct discourse, the rhetoric of the passage represents psychological interiority as the speech belonging to another. Softening the power structure implicit in the imperative mood of musts and shoulds, the passage inhabits the perspective of an “I,” building a subjectivity nevertheless rooted in a social order determined by class: the feminine ideal is devoted to the general good because she is “the least engaged”—meaning without paid work outside the home. Despite the laborious household chores Ellis inventories, such rhetorical choices mythologize the leisure necessary for meeting the family’s emotional needs.

If Sarah Ellis pitched her work as a mission to help the women of England navigate new social conditions, her call was amplified in the wild success of Isabella Beeton’s The Book of Household Management (1861). An encyclopedic compendium of recipes, cleaning tips, and sewing instructions—advice for mastering all the material details of middle-class domestic life from manners to menus to managing household servants—Mrs. Beeton’s book targeted the young newlywed whose education privileged piano playing and sketching over making a pudding and bringing bathwater to the right temperature. As a woman in her early twenties, Beeton herself had little experience with housekeeping, which explains some of the book’s questionable advice, such as boiling carrots for over two hours.24 Nevertheless, the book was enormously influential. Dickens’s Bella Wilfer puzzles over its instructions in parodic dialogue with herself. Reprinted in large runs throughout the century, the book anthologized supplements Beeton wrote for her husband’s magazine, The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, which is to say that its contents and the spirit of its representations were widely circulated. Although Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management has been called “the most famous English cookery book ever published,”25 the ideological scope of its rhetoric attests that it was more than a collection of recipes. The language of its introduction discloses these lofty ambitions:

As with the Commander of an Army, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path. Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong to the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into the knowledge of household duties; for on these are perpetually dependent the happiness, comfort, and well-being of a family. In this opinion we are borne on by the author of “The Vicar of Wakefield,” who says: “The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron, are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queens. She who makes her husband and her children happy, who reclaims the one from vice and trains up the other to virtue, is a much greater character than ladies described in romances, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from their quiver, or their eyes.”26

Like the metaphor of the homemaker as a queen, the comparison of managing a household to commanding an army elevates domesticity by ironically collapsing the separate-sphere distinction between private and public life. The complex literary culture through which this domesticity takes shape emerges in the paragraph’s invocation of the novelist Oliver Goldsmith, demonstrating a collusion between advice literature and fiction in the manufacture of domestic ideology. While Goldsmith holds forth on what kind of woman makes a good heroine, Beeton dwells on what kind of heroine makes a good woman.

Growing at unprecedented rates, a large sector of Victorian periodical culture turned its attention from the 18th-century coffee shop of newspapers and political controversies to the private home as the preferred space of literary consumption, many magazines thus announcing themselves as appropriate for family reading in titles like The Family Herald, or Useful Information and Amusement for the Million (1842–1940), The Leisure Hour (1852–1905), and Cassell’s Illustrated Family Paper (1853–1867).27 Related to hearthside reading, family papers emerged as another expression of the Victorians’ preoccupation with home life. Popular, inexpensive weekly magazines that promoted domestic economy and the cultivation of Christian virtues, family papers were cheerful in tone and moral in orientation, steering away from political controversy and toward holding needlework competitions.28 The Household Friend (1850–1851), The Domestic Messenger (1859–1867), and Our Own Fireside (1864–1905) are some characteristic titles. While more serious in its commitment to publishing quality fiction and including topics of public interest, Dickens’s Household Words (1850–1859) was so named in an effort to capitalize on this emerging market.29 The pivot toward private life also entailed the arrival of a new subgenre of domestic magazine that took as its primary subject the practice of homemaking itself: recipes, gardening, home decoration, childrearing, entertaining, and the management of household servants.30 Beeton’s Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine (1852–1879), Woman’s Life (1895–1934), and Englishwoman (1895–1899) are some important examples. Indeed, the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine specified its organizational principle, “to make home happy,”31 explicitly illustrating the cult of domesticity that came to define the period. Among the homemaking skills that garnered special attention was mothering: the Family Friend and the Magazine of Domestic Economy were addressed to working-class mothers as the teachers of family responsibility; the Mother’s Magazine and the British Mothers’ Magazine framed maternal care in evangelical terms; by the end of the century, most magazines for women featured advice columns for mothers. Home Sweet Home (1893–1901), Home Chat (1895–1958), and Home Notes (1894–1957) exemplify another offshoot, one that combined interests in celebrities and fashion typical of the market in magazines for women with domestic “tips” on cooking, sewing, childrearing, and household management.32 The consumerism that fortified domestic ideology as it shaped and took shape in Victorian periodicals materializes in the new use of “advertorials”—a visual and textual conflation of advertisements and editorials33—common in these domestically themed ladies’ journals.

But the domestic ideology of Victorian periodicals also provided many women with a form of authority suited to the professional work of magazine journalism. Home Notes, for example, featured a column entitled “Mothers in Council,”34 Woman’s Life featured a column on “baby-lore,”35 and Baby: The Mothers’ Magazine: A Guide to the Health, Dress, Food and General Management of Children (1887–1915) featured a column of children’s sayings, advice from “Mater” and pictures of “Beautiful Babies”36 That women readers constituted a critical market for a large swath of Victorian magazine publishing created a demand for topics that only women could write about authoritatively. It is no accident that periodical publishing formed one of the first professions to open up to women.37 They entered the ranks not only as writers but as editors, managers, and owners.

Lectures and Sermons

Related to advice literature, which was mainly written by and for women, were lectures and sermons delivered and often published by men. The evangelical preacher John Angell James, for example, delivered a set of sermons to young men instructing them on the importance of family prayers for the maintenance of authority and order,38 and he placed feminine virtue at the center of his lavish panegyric to the home: “There are few terms in the language around which cluster so many blissful associations as that delight of every English heart, the word HOME . . . this,—home—sweet home—is the sphere of wedded woman’s mission.”39

Among the most celebrated and influential of these encomia is John Ruskin’s public lecture “Of Queen’s Gardens,” which he delivered in Manchester at the end of December 1864 and published as a chapter of Sesame and Lilies in 1865. Here the doctrine of separate spheres takes its most rigid form even as Ruskin invokes nature to sentimentalize it:

The man’s power is active progressive, defensive. He is eminently the doer, the creator, the discoverer, the defender. His intellect is for speculation and invention; his energy for adventure. . . . But the woman’s power is for rule, not for battle and her intellect is not for invention or recreation, but sweet ordering, arrangement and decision. She sees the qualities of things, their claims, and their places.40

While Ruskin maintained that the sexes are separate but equal, his program for their respective educations was far from the egalitarian vision that writers such as John Stuart Mill advocated at roughly the same time.41 “A man,” Ruskin explains, “ought to know any language or science he learns, thoroughly: while a woman ought to know the same language or science only so far as may enable her to sympathize in her husband’s pleasures, and in those of his best friends.”42

As Ruskin argues, it is the sympathy natural to women that endows the home with a sanctity whereby religious values are collapsed into psychological ones:

This is the true nature of home—it is a place of peace; the shelter, not only from all injury, but from all terror, doubt, and division. In so far as it is not this, it is not home; so far as the anxieties of the outer life penetrate into it, and the inconsistently-minded, unknown, unloved, or hostile society of the outer world is allowed by either husband or wife to cross the threshold it ceases to be a home; it is then only a part of the outer world which you have roofed over and lighted a fire in. But so far as it is a sacred place, a vestal temple, a temple of the hearth watched over by household gods . . . so far it vindicates the name and fulfills the praises of home.43



Despite this powerful rhetoric, some women poets explicitly or implicitly rejected domestic idealization. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh (1857), for example, centers on a strong female protagonist who chooses the professional life of a writer over marriage and family. In a more oblique way, Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market (1862) concludes with a picturesque tableaux of its happy maidens as “wives/With children of their own” (544–545), but only after the poem has walked them through a sensational allegory of fervid lesbian eroticism.44 Both poems exemplify challenges to the heteronormative household at the center of domestic ideology.

The debilitating effect of domestic ideology on the lives of women probably achieves its most eloquent form in Virginia Woolf’s 1931 denunciation of the Victorian Angel in the House, the subject of Coventry Patmore’s four-volume poetic worship of his wife, a figure of the self-sacrificing, sympathetic and pure woman gracing a private sphere of domestic bliss. The work of an Edwardian whose relationship to the Victorian culture of her parents was complicated, Woolf’s ingenious depiction elevates the domestic ideal in monolithic terms. As she explains it, the life of a woman writer was rendered impossible by the specter of Patmore’s domestic figuration:

You who come of a younger and happier generation may not have heard of her—you may not know what I mean by the Angel in the House. I will describe her as shortly as I can. She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it—in short she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others. . . . And when I came to write I encountered her with the very first words. The shadow of her wings fell on my page; I heard the rustling of her skirts in the room. Directly, that is to say, I took my pen in my hand to review that novel by a famous man, she slipped behind me and whispered: “My dear, you are a young woman. You are writing about a book that has been written by a man. Be sympathetic; be tender; flatter; deceive; use all the arts and wiles of our sex. Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own. Above all, be pure.” And she made as if to guide my pen. I now record the one act for which I take some credit to myself, though the credit rightly belongs to some excellent ancestors of mine who left me a certain sum of money—shall we say five hundred pounds a year?—so that it was not necessary for me to depend solely on charm for my living. I turned upon her and caught her by the throat. I did my best to kill her.45

The inner voice Sarah Stickney Ellis invents for her female readers, the voice of Woolf’s Angel in the House, is the internalization of domestic ideology, the system of beliefs that demands from women sympathy and self-sacrifice. Despite its humor, the anger of Woolf’s prose is palpable. And with good reason. Here is a small sample of Patmore:

  • Man must be pleased; but him to please
  • Is woman’s pleasure; down the gulf
  • Of his condoled necessities
  • She casts her best, she flings herself.
  • How often flings for nought, and yokes
  • Her heart to an icicle or whim,
  • Whose each impatient word provokes
  • Another, not from her, but him;
  • While she, too gentle even to force
  • His penitence by kind replies,
  • Waits by, expecting his remorse,
  • With pardon in her pitying eyes;
  • And if he once, by shame oppress’d,
  • A comfortable word confers,
  • She leans and weeps against his breast,
  • And seems to think the sin was hers;
  • Or any eye to see her charms,
  • At any time, she’s still his wife,
  • Dearly devoted to his arms;
  • She loves with love that cannot tire;
  • And when, ah woe, she loves alone,
  • Through passionate duty love springs higher,
  • As grass grows taller round a stone.46

The poor echo of Milton’s most notorious lines, “He for God only, she for God in him” (4.299); feminine silence and patience despite apparently unrequited love; a woman’s duty compared to a stone. One need not be a feminist to object to Patmore’s celebration of the domestic woman. But Woolf’s rhetoric does not necessarily make room for characteristic cracks in the surface of Victorian domestic idealization. Far more respected than Coventry Patmore in the 19th century was the poet laureate Lord Alfred Tennyson, whose immensely popular Enoch Arden (1865) features a conventionally sentimental domestic scene:

  • For cups and silver on the burnish’d board
  • Sparkled and shone; so genial was the hearth:
  • And on the right hand of the hearth he saw
  • Philip, the slighted suitor of old times,
  • Stout, rosy, with his babe across his knees;
  • And o’er her second father stoopt a girl,
  • A later but a loftier Annie Lee,
  • Fair-hair’d and tall, and from her lifted hand
  • Dangled a length of ribbon and a ring
  • To tempt the babe, who rear’d his creasy arms,
  • Caught at and ever miss’d it, and they laugh’d:
  • And on the left hand of the hearth he saw
  • The mother glancing often toward her babe,
  • But turning now and then to speak with him,
  • Her son, who stood beside her tall and strong,
  • And saying that which pleased him, for he smiled.47

A picture of domesticity: before the clean and wholesome hearth of a simple cottage, the members of a happy family, intimately tender with each other, play with a bouncing baby. The scene, however, unfolds through Enoch’s eyes and Enoch has just returned from being lost at sea to find his wife remarried to his rival and his children now belonging to another man. Enoch’s homecoming is a story of bigamous return, one of the most common plots in Victorian literature.48 And thus the scene of domestic idealization is staged through Enoch’s heartbreak. He staggers away from the window, barely able to walk after such a devastating blow. It is impossible to talk about domesticity in Victorian literature without putting Patmore’s Angel in the House in dialogue with Tennyson’s Enoch Arden insofar as even the sentimentality of domestic idealization rarely excluded its darker side, where loss, alienation and indifference presided.


Virginia Woolf lamented that Victorian domesticity, despite its role in the sacralization of the home, left women out of history: Ask an old woman what her life has meant to her and she will remember how the streets were lit for the battle of Balaclava, but not what she herself was doing on April 5, 1868; she will remember the guns firing in Hyde Park for the birth of King Edward VII, but not what she was doing on November 2, 1875.49 Because women’s lives unfold in the continual small actions of the everyday—because women’s lives unfold as domestic matters—their deeds are omitted from history and their work devalued in official memory: “For all the dinners are cooked; the plates and cups washed; the children set to school and gone out into the world. Nothing remains of it all. All has vanished. No biography or history has a word to say about it.”50

Nevertheless, the Victorian novel, in its focus on the domestic lives of major and minor characters and in its abiding interest in experience that unfolds in the tense of past repeated action (the meals we would have, the games we would play, the conversations we would share, etc.) constructs a line of valuation that competes with the historical understanding of the things that matter. As Alan Mintz has argued, the 19th-century novel often judges an individual “on the basis of his contribution to society, culture, and history, in other words, on the basis of works that stand on their own”—what we might call achievement; but it is equally and more significantly interested in building an unhistorical line of evaluation that “judges an individual by his contribution to the personal moral life of those closest to him (in proximity, not in sentiment), as measured by renunciations of self-interest.”51 Thus George Eliot concludes Middlemarch by observing that “the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistorical acts,” an act of the imagination that will make it possible even a century later for Richard Nixon to leave the White House in ignominy by shifting attention to dimensions of the human experience that lie outside of public life: “Nobody will ever write a book, probably, about my mother. Well . . . my mother was a saint.”52

The Victorian novel is certainly crowded with examples of saintly domestic women. In Dickens’s David Copperfield (1849–1850), Agnes Wickfield, whose Christian name appropriately associates her with Christ as the sacrificed Lamb of God, displays all of the virtues inventoried in Sarah Stickney Ellis’s domestic manuals:

When we had dined, we went upstairs again, where everything went on exactly as on the previous day. Agnes set the glasses and the decanters in the same corner, and Mr. Wickfield sat down to drink, and drank a good deal. Agnes played the piano to him, sat by him, and worked and talked, and played some games at dominoes with me. In good time she made tea; and afterwards, when I brought down my books, looked into them, and showed me what she knew of them (which was no slight matter, though she said it was), and what was the best way to learn and understand them. I see her, with her modest, orderly, placid manner, and I hear her beautiful calm voice, as I write these words. The influence for all good, which she came to exercise over me at a later time, begins already to descend upon my breast. . . . I feel that there are goodness, peace and truth, wherever Agnes is; and that the soft light of the coloured window in the church, seen long ago, falls on her always, and on me when I am near her, and on everything around.53

The quotidian routines of eating, music, and dominoes are sanctified by Agnes, whose goodness, associated throughout the novel with the stained-glass windows of a church, emanates from her attentiveness to the needs of others. Indeed, Agnes seems to have very little personality, as if it were crushed by the sentimentality through which home life achieves representation in the passage.

By the 1860s, however, Dickens is making fun of domestic ideation. Developing “a perfect genius for home,” Bella Wilfer finds herself Mrs. John Rokesmith, a suburban housewife now in contentious dialogue with Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. In a passage that playfully challenges the authority of that weighty tome, the use of dialogue that in Ellis demonstrates the internalization of domestic prescriptions here authorizes Bella’s resistance, inciting her to note objections in the book’s margins and finally to slam it closed:

For Mrs J. R., who had never been wont to do too much at home as Miss B. W., was under the constant necessity of referring for advice and support to a sage volume entitled The Complete British Family Housewife, which she would sit consulting, with her elbows on the table and her temples on her hands, like some perplexed enchantress poring over the Black Art. This, principally because the Complete British Housewife, however sound a Briton at heart, was by no means an expert Briton at expressing herself with clearness in the British tongue, and sometimes might have issued her directions to equal purpose in the Kamskatchan language. In any crisis of this nature, Bella would suddenly exclaim aloud, “Oh you ridiculous old thing, what do you mean by that? You must have been drinking!” And having made this marginal note, would try the Housewife again, with all her dimples screwed into an expression of profound research.

There was likewise a coolness on the part of the British Housewife, which Mrs John Rokesmith found highly exasperating. She would say, “Take a salamander,” as if a general should command a private to catch a Tartar. Or, she would casually issue the order, “Throw in a handful—” of something entirely unattainable. In these, the Housewife’s most glaring moments of unreason, Bella would shut her up and knock her on the table, apostrophising her with the compliment, “O you are a stupid old Donkey! Where am I to get it, do you think?”54

The tone errs on the side of preciousness, and Dickens here is certainly no feminist activist, but the passage’s representation of domesticity is by no means monosemic either.

If the figure of the domestic woman in much of Dickens’s work is complicated by a playfulness that at times encourages readers to not take the Angel in the House so very seriously, the figure of separate spheres receives similar treatment. In Great Expectations (1861), Dickens provides the consummate example of domestic idealization in the Victorian novel with the character of Pip’s friend John Wemmick. A clerk to the lawyer Mr. Jarndyce, Wemmick is severe and legalistic when at work but lighthearted and tender when at home in suburban Walworth, where “the Castle,” a miniature suburban cottage built in mock gothic style, boasts a tiny moat and pretend bridge to convey “the idea of fortifications” at the front and an ornamental lake for cooling punch at the back.55 Dickens uses Wemmick to literalize the separate sphere doctrine: “The office is one thing, and private life is another,” he instructs Pip, “When I go into the office, I leave the Castle behind me, and when I come into the Castle, I leave the office behind me.”56 Thus Wemmick’s entire physiognomy changes while walking on the road back to work, getting “dryer and harder.”57 Even his opinions split between cold and calculating “official sentiments” and generous, humane “Walworth sentiments.”58 The domesticity of Wemmick’s Castle posits the home as a relief from the heartless world of London’s legal and financial institutions, a place where Wemmick can care for his elderly father by pretending to give him useful responsibilities, pursue a romantic courtship with Miss Skiffins, and mastermind an anonymous act of charity for Pip’s friend. The material comforts of a shared meal thus convey an emotional warmth that banishes, or at least, seems to banish, the brutalities of the workplace:

We ate the whole of the toast, and drank tea in proportion, and it was delightful to see how warm and greasy we all got after it. . . . After a short pause of repose, Miss Skiffins—in the absence of the little servant girl who, it seemed, retired to the bosom of her family on Sunday afternoons—washed up the tea-things, in a trifling lady-like amateur manner that compromised none of us. Then, she put on her gloves again, and we drew round the fire, and Wemmick said, “Now Aged Parent, tip us the paper.”59

Eating buttered toast and hearing the paper read aloud: private-life intimacy seems to do away with work, even domestic work, Miss Skiffins thus adopting an “amateur” manner while washing the dishes. Indeed, the whole tenor of this scene celebrates domesticity with an air of charming playfulness. That the characters must pretend that the work of cleaning up is not really work, however, suggested that the home can only be separated from the workplace through an act of theatrical make-believe.

This is to say that even in Victorian literature where domesticity seems to achieve its most celebrated apotheosis, the discourse through which it takes shape is complicated by contradictions. Despite the feminist manifesto expressed in Jane Eyre’s revolt against a domestic confinement that relegates women to “making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags,”60 Jane Eyre’s response to the question of what she will do with her life once she receives an unexpected legacy seems lifted directly from a domestic manual:

My first aim will be to clean down (do you comprehend the full force of the expression?)—to clean down Moor House from chamber to cellar; my next to rub it up with bees-wax, oil, and an indefinite number of cloths, till it glitters again; my third, to arrange every chair, table, bed, carpet, with mathematical precision; afterwards I shall go near to ruin you in coals and peat to keep up good fires in every room; and lastly, the two days preceding that on which your sisters are expected will be devoted by Hannah and me to such beating of eggs, sorting of currants, grating of spices, compounding of Christmas cakes, chopping up of materials for mince-pies, and solemnising of other culinary rites, as words can convey but an inadequate notion of to the uninitiated like you.61

The string of gerunds characterizing the novelistic representation of domestic work manifests itself here as Jane’s rebellion against her cousin St. John’s coercions to accompany him on a missionary journey to India as his wife.62 Within even a single novel, the making of pudding serves as an object of protest as well as a tool of resistance. Whether in Rufus Lyon’s discovery of his spiritual vocation in nursing a French Catholic woman and her daughter (domesticity’s ethic of care pertains to men),63 or in Clare Kirkpatrick Gibson’s materialistic maneuverings (an orderly household is nothing but a deceptive performance),64 or in the meek heiress Laura Fairlie’s incarceration (the domestic asylum is a mental hospital)65 the Victorian novel uses domesticity to address the human experience as it departs, triumphantly or resignedly, from ideology.

Discussion of the Literature

Social History

One positive legacy of 19th-century domestic ideology takes the form of a paradigm shift in the historical imagination whereby a traditional discussion of the deeds of history accompanies the excavation of human experience that is unhistorical. The quotidian ways of doing and thinking—the “mentalités”—subtending wars, treaties, and the passage of laws emerge as legitimate objects of historical investigation. In this sense, our understanding of domesticity in Victorian literature is enhanced by groundbreaking work in social history, much of which is anthropological and sociological in orientation.

Just as 20th century feminist frowning on the figure of the domestic woman derives, at least in part, from Woolf’s satirical depiction of the Angel in the House, the idea of the home as a sanctuary from the heartlessness of industrialized capitalism stems, at least in part, from Christopher Lasch’s landmark Haven in a Heartless World. Originally published in 1958, Lasch’s bitter sociological examination focuses on the American 20th-century family, but his model of the idealized Victorian home perpetuates the idea of Victorian domesticity as anchored in the separate sphere doctrine.66

Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall’s pioneering Family Fortunes both supports and refutes broad-brush representations of 19th-century domesticity in its nuanced analysis of industrialized Birmingham and rural Essex, two apparently different communities that nevertheless reflect similar patterns of affiliation around the home.67 Equally nuanced is the laconic three-volume The Woman Question: Society and Literature in Britain and America, 1837–1833, which assembles primary-source excerpts and contemporary analyses in tracing the relationship between domestic ideology and the claims of individualism, duty to others, property ownership, women’s legal status, and the need for meaningful work.68 Complicating the binaries characteristic of domestic ideology, the collection of essays in Inside Out: Women Negotiating, Subverting, Appropriating Public and Private Space identifies sites where women asserted public authority.69

Along these revisionist lines, the understanding of domestic space as feminine has shifted as material documenting the roles of men has garnered more thoughtful attention. Claudia Nelson’s Invisible Men, for example, sees in Victorian periodicals common depictions of fathers in the home as threats to family values. This idea emerges in dialogue with the image of a benevolent paterfamilias circulated in pictorial art.70 Moreover, the conventional illustration of a benevolent paterfamilias as emotionally remote has been challenged in monographs like Valerie Sanders’s The Tragi-comedy of Victorian Fatherhood, which uses the life writing of prominent Victorian men to demonstrate their domestic involvement.71 Equally revisionist is John Tosh’s A Man’s Place, which underscores the role men played in the orchestration of private life.72

Material Culture

Despite Ruskin’s paean to its emotional comforts, the Victorian home as it is constructed in advice literature is a material space of deliberate design. Thad Logan’s The Victorian Parlour, for example, investigates this socially significant room as a register of political change (such as the repeal of the glass tax in 1845), of scientific advancements (such as the transportation of exotic plants), and of class and gender performance (whereby a middle-class woman displays the family’s consumer confidence).73 Similarly, Deborah Cohen’s Household Gods identifies in British materialism the evangelical idea of taste as a moral category relevant to the Victorian home.74 Judith Flanders’s Inside the Victorian Home documents the enormous amount of manual labor domestic life required.75 Repudiating the separate sphere doctrine in the material history of Victorian domestic spaces, Jane Hamlett’s Material Relations demonstrates male involvement in decorating the home and notes the frilly ornamentation of male living spaces in schools, universities, and lodging houses.76

Much of this material history of domesticity draws on fiction. Exploring the profound economic and political histories subtending Victorian “thing culture,” Elaine Freedgood’s groundbreaking The Ideas in Things exemplifies the excavation of Victorian clutter and its meanings.77 Similarly, Andrea Kaston Tange’s Architectural Identities uses housekeeping guides, floor plans, letters, and fiction to illustrate how the Victorian interior publically represented its own privacy.78 Deborah Wynne’s Women and Personal Property understands changes in married women’s property law as altering the significance of domestic consumerism.79 Domesticity’s representation of Great Britain’s ideological dance with colonialism emerges in Suzanne Daly’s engaging and insightful The Empire Inside: Indian Commodities in Victorian Domestic Novels.80

Literary Criticism

The dominance of the marriage plot and its domestic telos in the Victorian novel has produced a body of criticism attentive to women writers, female characters, middle-class ideology, family theory, psychological interiority, and the exportation of English culture through colonial and imperial practices. Most of this work is feminist in orientation, ranging from traditionally humanist considerations of women writers to Foucauldian interests in subject identities produced by the power structures informing gender, class, and race. Many studies of Victorian domesticity in fiction call attention to illustrations of separate sphere ideology by focusing on the family’s association to private emotion, leisure, and consumerism, understanding the home as a coercive instrument in service to the state and the middle-class hegemony that constitutes it. Nancy Armstrong’s Desire and Domestic Fiction, Mary Poovey’s Uneven Developments, and Elizabeth Langland’s Nobody Angels are the seminal works of this school.81 They revolutionized critical understanding of Victorian domesticity by adding class ideology and its cultural manifestation to a conversation that had been previously limited to underscoring female experience. This work moved us, for example, from seeing in the opening of Jane Eyre a representation of domestic space as the site of physical violence and psychological abuse to seeing in its concluding marriage a false resolution of a real contradiction, recognizing along the way how our own readerly desires are implicated in the cultural legerdemain whereby conventional authority gets internalized. The influence of this line of reasoning cannot be understated. To take only one of many illustrations, Monica Flegel’s 2015 Pets and Domesticity in Victorian Literature and Culture understands the figure of the family pet as a disciplinary agent enforcing conventional sexual and gender performance in Victorian domestic life.82

Other studies have complicated the binaries on which even containment theories rest by attending to domesticity’s relationship with work and economic productivity. Denise Riley’s Am I That Name? demonstrates that the association of women with the category of the social affiliated gender to the civilizing missions of public service, eroding the boundaries separating separate spheres even if nominally reinforcing them.83 Dorice Williams Elliott’s The Angel out of the House, in its focus on philanthropic work, and Beth Sutton-Ramspeck’s Raising the Dust, in its use of housekeeping tropes for representing political reform, demonstrate domesticity’s expansive applications to the public sphere.84 Monica Cohen’s Professional Domesticity places the representation of domestic work in the context of emerging professional culture whereby previously unrecognized labor—both homemaking and novelcraft—achieve social recognition.85 Along these lines, Jennifer Phegley’s Educating the Proper Woman Reader argues that the family literary magazine prepared girls and women to pursue careers as literary professionals.86 That the home also provided training for professional men emerges in Laura Fasick’s Professional Men and Domesticity.87 In a similar complication of boundaries dividing public and private life, Susan David Bernstein and Elsie Michie’s volume of essays, Victorian Vulgarity, understands taste as a gatekeeper whereby a social discourse of genteel manners determines acts of political and public exclusion.88

While this work demonstrates the collapse of separate sphere ideology in Victorian literature, revisionary work on representations of the family similarly demythologizes the heteronormative household unit. Duc Dao and Shale Preston’s Queer Victorian Families calls attention to how many unconventional relationships constituted kinship, an inclusivity that accommodates both queerness and disability, making same-sex lovers, household animals, and romantic cousins legible in domesticity’s expansive discourse.89 Similarly, Holly Furneaux’s Queer Dickens identifies the ubiquity of happy same-sex surrogate families and domestic arrangements, often involving paternal bachelors, men nursing each other through sickness, and the male cohabitation typical of houseboats and lighthouses.90 A landmark work of scholarship that contributes to recognizing the diversity of Victorian domestic experience, Sharon Marcus’s Between Women uses life writing of middle-class women, debates in magazines on the use of corporal punishment in childrearing, doll narratives, novels, and female marriages to further complicate how we understand Victorian domesticity in literature as a complex space where the human subject encounters ideology.91

BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History.

Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History is a website associated with the peer-reviewed online publication Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. The site compiles short articles on all facets of Victorian cultural history.

NINES: Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship.

Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship is a peer-reviewing scholarly group that aggregates digital objects and forges online links for important research in the field.

Victoria and Albert Museum: Search the Collections.

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s database provides catalogue records and images for many of the objects in their vast collection.

Victoria Research Web.

Victoria Research Web is a scholarly guide for searching VICTORIA, the discussion listserv for the journal Victorian Studies, where Victorianists have pooled resources illuminating everything from an archive catalogue to a journal article. Victoria Research Web has also published the updated Curran Index featuring anonymous contributors to newspapers and journals, the VanArsdel Guide to periodical research, the Weedon Guide to the records of Victorian publishers, and a growing database of three-volume novels.

Victorian Popular Culture.

Adam Matthew’s portal features digitalized primary sources on popular culture between 1779 and 1930 in Britain, Europe, and North America. It is organized into four modules: Spiritualism; Sensation and Magic; Circuses, Sideshows and Freaks; and Music Hall, Theatre and Popular Entertainment.

Victorian Web.

The Victorian Web collects peer-reviewed primary and secondary sources of Victorian culture. Each entry includes broad-brush introductions and useful links.

Further Reading

Adam Matthew Publications. Women and Victorian Values, 1837–1910: Advice Books, Manuals and Journals for Women. 7 parts. Marlborough, U.K.: Adam Mathew Publications, 1996.Find this resource:

    Armstrong, Nancy. Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.Find this resource:

      Chase, Karen, and Michael Levenson. The Spectacle of Intimacy: A Public Life for the Victorian Family. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.Find this resource:

        Cohen, Monica. Professional Domesticity in the Victorian Novel: Women, Work and Home. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

          Dao, Duc, and Shale Preston. Queer Victorian Families: Curious Relations in Literature. London: Routledge, 2015.Find this resource:

            Langland, Elizabeth. Nobody’s Angels: Middle-Class Women and Domestic Ideology in Victorian Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995.Find this resource:

              Marcus, Sharon. Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

                Munich, Adrienne. Queen Victoria’s Secrets. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

                  Myers, Janet C. Antipodal England: Emigration and Portable Domesticity in the Victorian Imagination. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009.Find this resource:

                    Nunokawa, Jeff. The Afterlife of Property: Domestic Security and the Victorian Novel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.Find this resource:

                      Poovey, Mary. Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.Find this resource:

                        Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism.” Critical Inquiry 12.1 (1985): 243–261.Find this resource:

                          Tosh, John. A Man’s Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.Find this resource:


                            (1.) Adrienne Munich, Queen Victoria’s Secrets (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 130. See also Margaret Homans, “‘To the Queen’s Private Apartments’: Royal Family Portraiture and the Construction of Victoria’s Sovereign Obedience,” Victorian Studies 37.1 (Autumn 1993): 1–41.

                            (2.) A photograph of The Royal Family in 1846 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter is available in the Royal Collection Trust, East Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

                            (3.) Sally Mitchell, Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia (London: Routledge Revivals, 2011), 323.

                            (4.) A photograph of Queen Victoria at a Spinning Wheel, 1865 is available in the Royal Collection Trust, Albumen carte-de-visite.

                            (5.) Munich, Queen Victoria’s Secrets, 41.

                            (6.) Munich, Queen Victoria’s Secrets, 21–22.

                            (7.) Frederick George Stephens, Sir Edwin Landseer (London: Sampson Low, 1880), 4.

                            (8.) Monica Flegel, Pets and Domesticity in Victorian Literature and Culture: Animality, Queer Relations, and the Victorian Family (London: Routledge, 2015), 1.

                            (9.) David Chandler, “The Story in the Song: ‘Home Sweet Home’ and Popular Anglo-American Romanticism,” Symbiosis 16.1 (2012): 22.

                            (10.) Chandler, “Home Sweet Home,” 22.

                            (11.) Derek B. Scott, Sounds of the Metropolis: The 19th Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris, and Vienna (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 10.

                            (12.) Karen Chase and Michael Levenson, The Spectacle of Intimacy: A Public Life for the Victorian Family (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 65.

                            (13.) Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780–1850 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 454.

                            (14.) Nancy Henry, The Cambridge Introduction to George Eliot (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 19.

                            (15.) Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes, 108–109.

                            (16.) Adam Matthew Publications, Women and Victorian Values, 1837–1910: Advice Books, Manuals and Journals for Women, 7 parts (Marlborough, U.K.: Adam Matthew Publications, 1996).

                            (17.) Mary Wollstonecraft, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” in The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, eds. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (New York: Norton, 1985), 144.

                            (18.) Chase and Levenson, Spectacle of Intimacy, 71.

                            (19.) Sarah Stickney Ellis, The Women of England, Their Social Duties, and Domestic Habits (London: Fisher & Son, 1839), 19.

                            (20.) Walter Scott, Heart of Midlothian (1818).

                            (21.) Jane Austen, Emma (1815).

                            (22.) Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (London: Penguin, 2003), 166.

                            (23.) Ellis, Women of England, 23–26.

                            (25.) Nicola Humble, introduction to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, ed. Isabella Mary Beeton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), vii.

                            (26.) Isabella Mary Beeton, The Book of Household Management (London: Cox & Wyman, 1861), 1.

                            (27.) Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor, eds., Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland (Ghent, Belgium: Academia Press, 2009), 175.

                            (28.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 215.

                            (29.) Blake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 215

                            (30.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 175.

                            (31.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 205.

                            (32.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 286–287.

                            (33.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 286–287.

                            (34.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 287.

                            (35.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 682.

                            (36.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 33.

                            (37.) Brake and Demoor, Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, 683.

                            (38.) Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes, 113.

                            (39.) Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes, 115.

                            (40.) John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, ed. Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House, 1983), 84.

                            (41.) Kate Millett, “The Debate Over Women: Ruskin Versus Mill,” Victorian Studies 14.1 (1970): 65.

                            (42.) Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, 92–93.

                            (43.) Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, 85.

                            (44.) Christina Rossetti, “Goblin Market,” in Victorian Poetry and Poetics, eds. Walter E. Houghton and G. Robert Stange (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968), 544–545.

                            (45.) Virginia Woolf, “Professions for Women,” in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays, ed. Virginia Woolf (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1942), chap. 27. Full text available online.

                            (46.) Coventry Patmore, “The Wife’s Tragedy,” in The Angel in the House, ed. Coventry Patmore, Volume I, Canto 9, Preludes, 1 (London: Macmillan, 1863) pp. 109–110, online.

                            (47.) Alfred Tennyson, Enoch Arden (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1865), 34–35.

                            (48.) Maia McAleavey, The Bigamy Plot: Sensation and Convention in the Victorian Novel (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 23.

                            (49.) Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own and Mrs. Dalloway (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), 281.

                            (50.) Woolf, Room of One’s Own, 281.

                            (51.) Alan Mintz, George Eliot and the Novel of Vocation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978), 114.

                            (52.) Richard Nixon, “President Nixon Bids an Emotional Farewell to His Staff,” in Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century, eds. Senator Robert Torricelli and Andrew Carrol (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999) p. 318.

                            (53.) Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1958), 183.

                            (54.) Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (London: Penguin, 1997), 666.

                            (55.) Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (London: Penguin, 2003), 207.

                            (56.) Dickens, Great Expectations, 208.

                            (57.) Dickens, Great Expectations, 210.

                            (58.) Dickens, Great Expectations, 291.

                            (59.) Dickens, Great Expectations, 297.

                            (60.) Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (London: Penguin, 2006), 130.

                            (61.) Brontë, Jane Eyre, 450.

                            (62.) Monica Cohen, Professional Domesticity in the Victorian Novel: Women, Work and Home (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 89–90.

                            (63.) George Eliot, Felix Holt, the Radical (London: Penguin, 1984), 173–174.

                            (64.) Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters (London: Penguin, 2003), 97–98.

                            (65.) Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (London: Penguin, 2003).

                            (66.) Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995).

                            (67.) Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes.

                            (68.) Elizabeth Helsinger, Robing Sheets, and William Veeder, eds., The Woman Question: Society and Literature in Britain and America, 1837–1883, 3 vols. (New York: Garland, 1983).

                            (69.) Teresa Gómez Reus and Aránzazu Usandizaga, eds., Inside Out: Women Negotiating, Subverting, Appropriating Public and Private Space (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008).

                            (70.) Claudia Nelson, Invisible Men: Fatherhood in Victorian Periodicals, 1850–1910 (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1995).

                            (71.) Valerie Sanders, The Tragi-comedy of Victorian Fatherhood (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

                            (72.) John Tosh, A Man’s Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999).

                            (73.) Thad Logan, The Victorian Parlour: A Cultural Study (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

                            (74.) Deborah Cohen, Household Gods: The British and Their Possessions (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006).

                            (75.) Judith Flanders, Inside the Victorian Home (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004).

                            (76.) Jane Hamlett, Material Relations: Domestic Interiors and Middle-Class Families in England, 1850–1910 (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2010).

                            (77.) Elaine Freedgood, The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

                            (78.) Andrea Kaston Tange, Architectural Identities: Domesticity, Literature, and the Victorian Middle Classes (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010).

                            (79.) Deborah Wynne, Women and Personal Property in the Victorian Novel (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011).

                            (80.) Suzanne Daly, The Empire Inside: Indian Commodities in Victorian Domestic Novels (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014).

                            (81.) Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Elizabeth Langland, Nobody’s Angels: Middle-Class Women and Domestic Ideology in Victorian Culture (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995); and Mary Poovey, Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).

                            (82.) Monica Flegel, Pets and Domesticity in Victorian Literature and Culture: Animality, Queer Relations, and the Victorian Family (London: Routledge, 2015).

                            (83.) Denise Riley, “Am I That Name?” Feminism and the Category of “Women” in History (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988).

                            (84.) Dorice Williams Elliott, The Angel out of the House: Philanthropy and Gender in Nineteenth-Century England (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002); and Beth Sutton-Ramspeck, Raising the Dust: The Literary Housekeeping of Mary Ward, Sarah Grand, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2004).

                            (85.) Monica Cohen, Professional Domesticity in the Victorian Novel: Women, Work and Home (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

                            (86.) Jennifer Phegley, Educating the Proper Woman Reader: Victorian Family Literary Magazines and the Cultural Health of the Nation (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2004).

                            (87.) Laura Fasick, Professional Men and Domesticity in the Mid-Victorian Novel (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2003).

                            (88.) Susan David Bernstein and Elsie B. Michie, eds., Victorian Vulgarity: Taste in Verbal and Visual Culture (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009).

                            (89.) Duc Dao and Shale Preston, Queer Victorian Families: Curious Relations in Literature (London: Routledge, 2015).

                            (90.) Holly Furneaux, Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

                            (91.) Sharon Marcus, Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).