Dickens’s Great Expectations (1860–1861) focuses on the coming of age of Pip, an orphan who must face the harsh realities of life in Victorian England. The novel is available from Random House (2006).
A remarkable form of social protest is Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” (1729), which suggests an outrageous solution to the famine in Ireland: babies should be eaten. This essay, along with other short works by Swift, is available in A Modest Proposal and Other Prose, from Barnes and Noble (2004).
Daniel Pool’s What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist, the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England (1993) examines the public and private world of the Victorians, including their customs, rituals, occupations, and living conditions.
Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England (1996) focuses on a variety of lifestyles during this period from country gentry to urban slum dwellers.