How did the Victorian Age play an important role in the History of English literature?

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Because of the intense industrialization in Britain during the Victorian Era, the manufacture of books got much cheaper -- enabling the mass market and the prominence of the new form of the Novel, as #2 suggested.  What's curious is that books became so cheap that even children's literature became a commodity!

Books specifically for children were unheard of -- until writers like Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) with her stories glorifying the English countryside with beautiful watercolor illustrations were able to be mass-produced.

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The Victorian period in literature was increasingly affected by the ideas of Darwin, a thinker whose ideas continue to provoke real thought and have a major influence in the present day (unlike, say, Marx and Freud). Many Victorians found Darwin's ideas unpleasant and unappealing. In the sense that the Victorian writers were the first to have to wrestle with the implications of Darwinism, they are writers whose works remain quite vital today.

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The Victorian age was in some ways the birth of the novel as a legitimate form of literature. Until the Victorian novelists emerged, there were few novels and many were considered fluff entertainment. The Victorians thus left us a lasting legacy. There was also much important poetry from that time period.
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