Book Reviews

Book Review: Radical Victorians

By James Hobson

Publication Date:  May 30, 2022**

232 Pages

Victorian society is usually thought of as traditional, conservative, and staid.  And for most people who lived during the reign of Queen Victoria, that is true.  However, James Hobson presents several Victorians who not only broke societal rules to make a point, they influenced future generations in ways they might not have dreamed of.  Sadly, the names of most of these early influencers have been lost to history but this book gives them a last hoorah.

I originally picked this up as research for my own writing, since characters who behave all the time are boring.  The author has a dry wit and the book is very readable (no textbook-style slog here), and I found myself immersed in history – which is one of my favorite places to be.

The author was very clear in his selection process: he chose radical thinkers “whose ideas were not much acted on (during the Victorian era).”  In fact, most of those highlighted did not live long enough to see society embrace their ideas.  But whether they knew it or not, they all changed the future.

“Radical Victorian” interpreted by Wombo Dreams

The book explores both men and women.  Most were wealthy, a few were not.  Some were better tolerated than others.  A few hobnobbed with high society and other radical thinkers like Darwin and Karl Marx.  A few went broke pursuing their dream and one died on the Titanic.  Some were radical atheists, others were conservative Christians. They couldn’t be pigeon holed. 

The Victorians in this work embraced ideals that included vegetarianism, the end to vivisection, temperance as a lifestyle, freedom of the press, atheism, radical Christianity, acceptance of birth control and cremation, spiritualism, and women’s equality under the law.

If you’re interested in Victorian society or just historical movers and shakers, I highly recommend this book. It’s a worthy addition to any library.

** Please be aware there are some inconsistencies on the release date.  My main sources indicate a May 30, 2022 release date; however, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are listing two different August 2022 release dates.  I suggest preordering it and being pleasantly surprised when it arrives.

My final rating was 4 stars.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley and Pen & Sword publishing for providing the ARC of this book.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

 Until next time, thank you for visiting.


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