Victoria Dressed in Black

Erik Gray

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Victoria Dressed in Black

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



This article presents an explanation on Victorian elegy. It shows that Victorian Britain itself was largely characterized as a culture of mourning, and bereavement as a theme was a more obvious touchstone in the Victorian consciousness. In addition, the decline of faith that affected Victorian elegy is covered. It is appropriate that the Victorian era's most celebrated poem, Alfred Tennyson's In Memoriam (1850), should be an elegy. The Victorian culture of mourning found its poet in Tennyson and its figurehead in Queen Victoria herself. Dante Gabriel Rossetti states that there is nothing sublime or even extreme about the landscape of death. The growing popularity of women's poetry in Britain beginning in the late eighteenth century gave rise to the idea of the ‘poetess’. Thomas Hardy's poem is typical of its time and represents the logical next step in the development of elegy.

Keywords: Victorian elegy; Victorian Britain; mourning; Alfred Tennyson; Queen Victoria; Dante Gabriel Rossetti; poetess; Thomas Hardy

Article.  8645 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (19th Century) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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