Victorian Lives: Life-Writing in the Victorian Period

Module code: EN7125

How did the Victorians write about their own and others’ lives? What did they reveal of their private lives, as well as their public personas? This module aims to explore nineteenth-century life-writing (biography and autobiography) through a wide variety of texts, including literary Lives; working-class oral life histories; biography as a Victorian institution (The Dictionary of National Biography); and female auto/biography. We will look at themes such as memory, childhood, family relationships and religion in Victorian life writing. We will also look at issues such as the conflicts between public and private life; what was acceptable and what was censored in Victorian biographical writing; how class and gender influenced Victorian life-writing. The module will be assessed by one 3,000 word essay.


  • 10 hours of seminars
  • 1 hour of tutorials
  • 139 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 3,000 words (100%)