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Victorian Poetry, Drama and Miscellaneous Prose 1832–1890$
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Paul Turner

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198122395

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198122395.001.0001

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Four Notable Authors

Four Notable Authors

(p.261) 14. Four Notable Authors
Victorian Poetry, Drama and Miscellaneous Prose 1832–1890

Paul Turner

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores four notable authors: Thomas Babington Macaulay, Harriet Martineau, John Stuart Mill, and Samuel Butler. Macaulay’s computer-like mind gave his writings a tone of slightly insensitive dogmatism, and encouraged a method of argument. He was thus ideally qualified for a legal or political career. Harriet Martineau worked against obstacles of poverty and chronic ill health that make Macaulay’s life seem relatively easy. Deaf from the age of fourteen, and left penniless at twenty-seven, she made herself one of the best-known authors in her period. For John Stuart Mill open-mindedness was a basic principle. His textbook of capitalist economics included arguments for socialism, his last sceptical essay on religion tolerated ‘simple Hope’ of an afterlife, and his feminist manifesto admitted the existence of domination. Samuel Butler was more than a satirist of Victorian conventions. He was also a kind of Democritus, a laughing philosopher, whose best ideas came from jocular reversals of the orthodox.

Keywords:   Thomas Babington Macaulay, Harriet Martineau, John Stuart Mill, Samuel Butler, Victorian conventions, poverty, capitalist economics, socialism

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