The Victorian era is named after Queen Victoria who reigned during the period of 1837 to 1901. It was a time of many changes and eventful developments in the field of art, literature, technology, religion, socially, politically and economically. It has been occasionally referred to as the second renaissance of England. See Victorian Era Timeline
Characteristics of society
Also, the times were such that we probably term it was very conservative. However, in fact, it was the commencement of the modern era. It was also the age of a lot of reformation and transition to imperialistic tendencies and growth of the British colonial empire. There was repressiveness about the society and mannerisms too.
The societal divisions were gradually altering and changing shapes. The earlier hierarchy began to crumble and a new social order was beginning to get formed. And in the new social order, the middle classes held the reins, as they emerged from squalor to scale higher positions in the strata of society.
The higher sections of the society were no longer exclusive to the aristocracy. Merchants and businessmen began commanding respect as they often were richer than the former. Commerce was the new representation of the hierarchy.
The people of England set great store by a person being a gentleman or a lady during the Victorian age. No longer was ancestry the most important thing. If one was suitably educated at one of the premier institutions of the country, he was deemed to be a gentleman. The worker classes were slower to change, though, but the change happened nonetheless, slowly but surely.
Still, conditions of poverty and abuse existed side by side the reforms. The men were eventually given the right to vote at the age of twenty-one. On the other hand, cruelty to children was rampant in the form of child labor which did not reduce for a very long time.
The bill that stated that no child who was less than nine years of age would work in a textile factory was the only one of its kind. Other industries allowed for no such restrictions. Teens were forced into prostitution because of coercion or circumstances.
The other side of the coin was that science progressed tremendously. Darwin is a product of this age. His works are read and revered till today. 1851 hosted the Great Exhibition showcasing the new and technological wonders of that age. The field of medicine also progressed a lot, as did physics. Sigmund Freud was another product of the Victorian era. Psychology was studied as a separate branch of science.
Marxism, socialism, and feminism marked three important characteristics in this era. It was a time for revolutions all round, in every sphere of life.