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Lord Byron : Letters W Somerset Maugham : Cakes and Ale George Moore : Esther Waters Story Book for Boys and Girls Aldous Huxley : Stories, Essays and Poems Voltaire : Candide and Other Tales English Religious Verse J B Priestley : Angel Pavement A Rugby schoolboy, William Webb Ellis, picks up the football and runs with it in rugby union's founding myth. Go to rugby football in A Dictionary of British History 1 rev ed.

The Combination Acts of and , outlawing trade unions in Britain, are repealed. Go to joint-stock company in A Dictionary of Finance and Banking 4 rev ed. Active later called Locomotion is the engine on the first passenger railway, between Stockton and Darlington. Go to Telford, Thomas — in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. George Canning becomes the British prime minister, but dies five months later. English artist Samuel Palmer moves to Shoreham, in Kent, for the most inspired years of his career.

Go to Palmer, Samuel —81 in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. The Duke of Wellington becomes British prime minister, heading the Tory government at a time when reform is urgently needed. William Burke and William Hare murder 16 victims and sell their bodies to the Edinburgh Medical School for anatomical study. The Metropolitan Police, set up in London by Robert Peel, become known as 'bobbies' from his first name. Oxford and Cambridge compete against each other in the first university boat race, held at Henley. The locomotive Rocket , built by George and Robert Stephenson, defeats two rivals in the Rainhill trials, near Liverpool.

The death of the last infant cousin senior to her in the royal succession makes Victoria heir to the British throne. Go to Victoria — in World Encyclopedia 1 ed.

Earl Grey becomes British prime minister at the head of a Whig government committed to reform. George Stephenson's railway between Liverpool and Manchester opens, with passengers pulled by eight locomotives based on Rocket.


Old London Bridge is demolished after more than six centuries, ending the chance of frost fairs on the Thames. Old Sarum, the most notorious of Britain's rotten boroughs, has just seven voters but returns two members to parliament. Go to Reform Acts in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. HMS Beagle sails from Plymouth to survey the coasts of the southern hemisphere, with Charles Darwin as the expedition's naturalist.

English scientist Michael Faraday reports his discovery of the first law of electrolysis, to be followed a year later by the second. Go to Faraday, Michael — in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. English mathematician Charles Babbage builds a sophisticated calculating machine, which he calls a 'difference engine'. Go to Babbage, Charles — in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. English author Frances Trollope ruffles transatlantic feathers with her Domestic Manners of the Americans , based on a 3-year stay. After several rejections by Britain's House of Lords, the Reform Bill finally passes and receives royal assent.

The Tories in Britain adopt a reassuring name for an uncertain future — Conservatives. Go to Conservative Party in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. Six farm labourers, from Tolpuddle in Dorset, are transported for seven years to Australia for administering unlawful oaths in the forming of a union. Go to Tolpuddle Martyrs in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. Lord Melbourne becomes Britain's prime minister, at the head of the same Whig administration after the resignation of Earl Grey.

Prime minister Lord Melbourne has difficulties in holding his government together and is dismissed by William IV. In London a great fire destroys most of the Palace of Westminster, including the two houses of parliament. English architect and designer Augustus Welby Pugin plays a major part in the second stage of the Gothic Revival.

Election results in Britain mean that Robert Peel is unable to form a Tory government, and Lord Melbourne returns as Britain's prime minister. Fox Talbot exposes the first photographic negatives, among them a view looking out through an oriel window in Lacock Abbey. English artist Edward Lear begins a series of travels, sketching around the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. Charles Barry wins the competition to design the new Houses of Parliament.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs are brought back to England from Australia after public protest leads to their sentences being remitted. Work begins on the suspension bridge over the river Avon, at Clifton, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. HMS Beagle reaches Falmouth, in Cornwall, after a voyage of five years, and Charles Darwin brings with him a valuable collection of specimens.

The year-old Victoria comes to the throne in Britain, beginning the long Victorian era. The Whig party in Britain begin referring to themselves as Liberals. Go to Whigs in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. The first trains run between London and Birmingham on the railway designed by Robert Stephenson. Charles Dickens' first novel, Oliver Twist , begins monthly publication in book form, An Irish packet steamer, the Sirius , becomes the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, completing the journey to New York in 19 days.

Brunel's Great Western , a wooden paddle-steamer, arrives in New York the day after the Sirius , with the record for an Atlantic crossing already reduced to 15 days. The London Prize Ring rules disallow kicking, gouging, head-butting and biting in the sport of boxing. Go to boxing in A Dictionary of British History 1 rev ed. The People's Charter, with its six political demands, launches the Chartist movement in England.

Go to Chartism noun in Oxford Dictionary of English 3 ed. Go to Turner, J. In the Bedchamber Crisis, Queen Victoria shows steely determination in refusing to dismiss politically committed ladies of her bedchamber. Queen Victoria gives Kew Gardens to the nation, as a botanic garden of scientific importance. Victoria marries Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and soon, with nine children, they provide the very image of the ideal Victorian family.

Robert Peel replaces Lord Melbourne as prime minister after a Conservative victory in the British general election.


Fox Talbot patents the 'calotype', introducing the negative-positive process that becomes standard in photography. With a teetotallers' rail trip for people, Thomas Cook introduces the notion of the package tour. Lord Shaftesbury's Mines Act makes it illegal for boys under 13, and women and girls of any age, to be employed underground in Britain.

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The young Friedrich Engels is sent from Germany to manage the family cotton-spinning factory in Manchester. Irish nationalist Daniel O'Connell pioneers mass political demonstrations, which become known as 'monster meetings'. English poet Robert Browning publishes a vivid narrative poem about the terrible revenge of The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The Brunel engineers, father and son, finish an year project tunnelling under the Thames between Wapping and Rotherhithe. Henry Cole commissions copies of the world's first Christmas card, designed for him by John Calcott Horsley. The statue of Nelson, by E. Baily, is placed on top of its column in Trafalgar Square. Go to Baily, Edward Hodges 10 Mar. Isambard Kingdom Brunel launches the Great Britain , the first iron steamship designed for the transatlantic passenger trade.

Daniel O'Connell is convicted of seditious conspiracy and is sentenced to prison. The first great entrepreneur of the railway age, George Hudson, becomes known as the Railway King. Daniel O'Connell is acquitted on appeal and released from prison. In his novel Coningsby Benjamin Disraeli develops the theme of Conservatism uniting 'two nations', the rich and the poor.

A blight destroys the potato crop in Ireland and causes what becomes known as the Great Famine. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert follow the German custom of a family Christmas tree, immediately making it popular in Britain. British prime minister Robert Peel carries a bill to repeal the Corn Laws, splitting his own party in the process. The Irish, fleeing from the potato famine at home, become the main group of immigrants to the USA.

The minority of Conservatives supporting Peel become a separate faction, henceforth known as the Peelites. Go to Peelite noun in Oxford Dictionary of English 3 ed. Edward Lear publishes his Book of Nonsense , consisting of limericks illustrated with his own cartoons. With his Conservative party split, Peel's government falls and Lord John Russell becomes British prime minister at the head of a Whig administration. Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah has its premiere in England, in the city of Birmingham.

Go to Mendelssohn, Felix —47 in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. Landlords in Scotland begin to clear crofters from Highland estates so as to provide pasture for sheep. Go to Highland clearances in Oxford Dictionary of English 3 ed. A new Factory Act is passed in Britain, limiting the working day of women and children to a maximum of ten hours. Scottish obstetrician James Simpson uses anaesthetic ether, and later in the year chloroform to ease difficulty in childbirth.

English author William Makepeace Thackeray begins publication of his novel Vanity Fair in monthly parts book form At a congress in London Engels persuades a group of radical Germans to adopt the name Communist League. Scottish physicist William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, proposes the 'absolute' scale of temperature. English caricaturist George Cruikshank publishes The Drunkard's Children in support of the developing Temperance movement. Prince Albert is the driving force behind the plans for a Great Exhibition in London.

Charles Dickens begins the publication in monthly numbers of David Copperfield , his own favourite among his novels. Go to Roberts, David 24 Oct. Expelled from Germany after the year of revolutions, Marx makes his home in tolerant London. Queen Victoria knights her favourite painter of animals, Edwin Landseer.

Alfred Tennyson's elegy for a friend, In Memoriam , captures perfectly the Victorian mood of heightened sensibility. British engineer Robert Stephenson completes a box-girder railway bridge over the Menai Strait, between Anglesey and mainland Wales.

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Go to Stephenson, Robert —59 in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. English cartoonist John Tenniel begins a year career drawing for the satirical magazine Punch. English photographer Frederick Scott Archer publishes the details of his collodion process, a marked improvement on the earlier calotype negative. English textile magnate Titus Salt begins to build Saltaire as a model industrial village for his workers. Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace, built in London in six months, is the world's first example of prefabricated architecture. Go to Crystal Palace in World Encyclopedia 1 ed.

The Great Exhibition attracts six million visitors to London's new Crystal Palace in a period of only six months. Lord John Russell's Whig administration collapses, and Lord Derby follows him as a Conservative prime minister at the head of a coalition government. Go to Houses of Parliament in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. Scottish physicist William Thomson formulates the second law of thermodynamics, concerning the transfer of heat within a closed system. Lord Aberdeen, leader of the 'Peelite' minority of the Conservative party, forms a new coalition government with the Liberals.

The hypodermic syringe with a plunger is simultaneously developed in France and in Scotland. Go to hypodermic syringe in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. English physician John Snow proves that cholera is spread by infected water from a pump in London's Broad Street.

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Britain and France enter the war between Turkey and Russia, on the Turkish side. Florence Nightingale, responding to reports of horrors in the Crimea, sets sail with a party of twenty-eight nurses. Go to Nightingale, Florence — in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. An inconclusive battle at Balaklava includes the Charge of the Light Brigade, with British cavalry recklessly led towards Russian guns. Within six weeks of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea, Tennyson publishes a poem finding heroism in the disaster.

Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole sets up her own 'British Hotel' in the Crimea to provide food and nursing for soldiers in need. Roger Fenton travels out from England to the Crimea — the world's first war photographer. Go to Fenton, Roger —69 in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. Lord Palmerston heads the coalition government in Britain after Lord Aberdeen loses a vote of confidence on his conduct of the Crimean War.

Holman Hunt's The Scapegoat combines realism and symbolism in an extreme example of Pre-Raphaelite characteristics. Go to Hunt, Holman — in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. David Livingstone, moving down the Zambezi, comes upon the Victoria Falls. Go to Victoria Falls in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. English artist William Simpson sends sketches from the Crimea which achieve rapid circulation in Britain as tinted lithographs. The Christian Socialism of F. Maurice and others is mocked by its opponents as 'muscular Christianity'. Go to Maurice, F. The Christmas issue of the Illustrated London News includes chromolithographs, introducing the era of colour journalism.

Tennyson publishes a long narrative poem, Maud , a section of which 'Come into the garden, Maud' becomes famous as a song. English author Anthony Trollope publishes The Warden , the first in his series of six Barsetshire novels. Go to Trollope, Anthony —82 in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. Victoria and Albert complete their fairy-tale castle at Balmoral, adding greatly to the nation's romantic view of Scotland. English chemist William Henry Perkin accidentally creates the first synthetic die, aniline purple now known as mauve.

David Livingstone urges upon a Cambridge audience the high ideal of taking 'commerce and Christianity' into Africa. Go to Hughes, Thomas —96 in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. Acts of exceptional valour in the Crimean War are rewarded with a new medal, the Victoria Cross, made from the metal of captured Russian guns.

Palmerston's government collapses and Lord Derby heads another Conservative minority administration. Burton and Speke reach Lake Tanganyika at Ujiji, a place later famous for the meeting between Livingstone and Stanley. Brunel dies just before the maiden voyage of his gigantic final project, the luxury liner The Great Eastern. Charles Darwin is alarmed to receive in his morning post a paper by Alfred Russell Wallace, outlining very much his own theory of evolution. The stench in central London, rising from the polluted Thames in a hot summer, creates what becomes known as the Great Stink.

US entrepreneur Cyrus W. Field succeeds in laying a telegraph cable across the Atlantic, but it fails after only a month. Go to Atlantic Cable. Go to Fenian movement in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. Speke reaches Lake Victoria and guesses that it is probably the source of the Nile. Joseph Bazalgette is given the task of providing London with a desperately needed new system of sewers. Charles Darwin puts forward the theory of evolution in On the Origin of Species , the result of 20 years' research.

Liberal leader Lord Palmerston returns to office as the British prime minister after the collapse of Derby's coalition government. A ton bell is installed above London's Houses of Parliament, soon giving its name Big Ben to both the clock and the clock-tower.

In On Liberty John Stuart Mill makes the classic liberal case for the priority of the freedom of the individual. Samuel Smiles provides an inspiring ideal of Victorian enterprise in Self-Help , a manual for ambitious young men. Tennyson publishes the first part of Idylls of the King , a series of linked poems about Britain's mythical king Arthur. English author George Eliot wins fame with her first full-length novel, Adam Bede. Florence Nightingale opens a training school for nurses in St Thomas's Hospital, establishing nursing as a profession.

Charles Dickens begins serial publication of his novel "Great Expectations" in book form English chemist and physicist William Crookes isolates a new element, thallium. An official National Eisteddfod is held for the first time in Wales, in Aberdare. Prince Albert dies of typhoid, plunging Victoria into forty years of widowhood and deep mourning. Mrs Henry Wood publishes her first novel, East Lynne , which becomes the basis of the most popular of all Victorian melodramas.

Oxford mathematician Lewis Carroll tells year-old Alice Liddell, on a boat trip, a story about her own adventures in Wonderland. The Metropolitan Railway, the world's first to go underground, opens in London using steam trains between Paddington and Farringdon Street. The Marylebone Cricket Club, arbiter of cricket, finally rules that overarm bowling is legitimate. The First International is established in London, with Karl Marx soon emerging as the association's leader.

Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell presents to the Royal Society his discoveries in the field of electromagnetics, now known collectively as Maxwell's Equations. English surgeon Joseph Lister introduces the era of antiseptic surgery, with the use of carbolic acid in the operating theatre. Lewis Carroll publishes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland , a development of the story he had told Alice Liddell three years earlier. A committee to campaign for women's suffrage is formed in Manchester, the first of many in Britain. Go to women's suffrage in A Dictionary of World History 2 ed. Palmerston dies in office, and is succeeded as leader of the Liberal government in Britain by his foreign secretary, Earl Russell.

A pressure group for penal reform in Britain is named after the great prison reformer John Howard. Go to Howard, John c. Russell's government falls, and Lord Derby returns for the third time, but again briefly, as Britain's prime minister. Britain's new Reform Act extends the franchise to working men in British towns. The world's first croquet tournament takes place in Evesham and is won by Walter Jones-Whitmore. Go to croquet in A Dictionary of British History 1 rev ed.

The Queensberry rules, named after the Marquess of Queensberry, introduce padded gloves in boxing, and rounds of three minutes. Benjamin Disraeli becomes British prime minister for the first time, at the head of a Conservative government, but only for a few months. Executions take place in public for the last time in London, being moved from outside Newgate Gaol to inside the prison. Liberal leader William Ewart Gladstone becomes British prime minister, for the first of four times, and remains in office for six years. English author Matthew Arnold publishes Culture and Anarchy , an influential collection of essays about contemporary society.

British prime minister William Gladstone introduces a bill to disestablish the Anglican church in Ireland. The most famous of the three-masted tea-clippers, the Cutty Sark is launched at Dumbarton for service to and from China. Go to Monet, Claude 14 Nov. The all-round English cricketer W. Grace begins a year career as captain of Gloucestershire. Go to Grace, W. Whistler paints his mother and calls the picture Arrangement in Grey and Black.

English actor Henry Irving plays what becomes one of his most famous parts, that of Mathias in the melodrama The Bells. Stanley, finding Livingstone at Ujiji, greets him with four words which become famous — 'Dr Livingstone, I presume'. George Eliot publishes Middlemarch , in which Dorothea makes a disastrous marriage to the pedantic Edward Casaubon. Whistler begins to paint his Nocturnes , a revolutionary series of night-time images on the river Thames.

The Ballot Act adds to the British electoral system the essential element of secrecy in voting. Go to secret ballot in A Dictionary of British History 1 rev ed. Conservative leader Benjamin Disraeli, at the age of 70, begins a 6-year term of office as Britain's prime minister. Major Walter Wingfield secures a patent for Sphairistike, a game he has developed at his home in Wales, from which lawn tennis evolves.

Go to lawn tennis in A Dictionary of British History 1 rev ed. William Crookes invents the radiometer, in which light causes four vanes to rotate in a bulb containing gas at low pressure. After spending much time in Europe in recent years, Henry James moves there permanently and settles first in Paris. An agreement is signed between France and Britain to cooperate in the construction of a tunnel beneath the Channel. Henry James's early novel Roderick Hudson is serialized in the Atlantic Monthly and is published in book form in The chaotic government finances of Egypt are placed under joint French and British control.

William Gladstone's pamphlet Bulgarian Horrors , protesting at massacre by the Turks, sells , copies within a month. Henry James moves to London, which remains his home for the next 22 years. Go to James, Henry — in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. India becomes the 'jewel in the crown' of Queen Victoria when Benjamin Disraeli secures for her the title Empress of India.

English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins develops a new verse form that he calls 'sprung rhythm'. English cricketer W. Lewis Carroll publishes The Hunting of the Snark , a poem about a voyage in search of an elusive mythical creature. The first Test match is played in Melbourne between English and Australian cricket teams, with victory going to Australia.

Go to cricket in World Encyclopedia 1 ed. On a wave of jingoism Benjamin Disraeli sends six British ironclads, in support of Turkey, to confront the Russians near Istanbul. Go to jingoism in A Dictionary of World History 2 ed. William Crookes develops a special tube, now known as the Crookes tube, for the study of cathode rays. English-born US photographer Eadweard Muybridge publishes closely linked photographs revealing how a horse goes through its paces.

Go to Muybridge, Eadweard 9 Apr. Stanley agrees to work for Leopold II in opening up the Congo river to commerce. English physicist Joseph Swan demonstrates a practical electric light bulb, using an incandescent carbon filament in a vacuum. The ancient Irish game of hurling is formalized by the newly founded Irish Hurling Union. English physicist Joseph Swan receives a patent for bromide paper, which becomes the standard material for printing photographs.

An entire train, full of passengers, falls into the river Tay in Scotland when a bridge collapses in a winter gale.