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.
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.
We can assert that the Victorian era played a pivotal role in the history of English literature since this period saw the emergence of Romanticism and Realism. Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte) is a good example. But the master of this period remains Charles Dickens. Romanticism is characterized by the supremacy of feelings over rules and the primacy of personal religious experience over dogmas. Realism is characterized by the verisimilitude. (mimesis)
Zac Egs (@ZacEgs)