This collaborative History aims to become the standard work on Victorian literature for the twenty-first century. Well-known scholars introduce readers to their particular fields, discuss influential critical debates and offer illuminating contextual detail to situate authors and works in their wider cultural and historical contexts. Sections on publishing and readership and a chronological survey of major literary developments between 1837 and 1901, are followed by essays on topics including sexuality, sensation, cityscapes, melodrama, epic and economics. Victorian writing is placed in its complex relation to the Empire, Europe and America, as well as to Britain's component nations. The final chapters consider how Victorian literature, and the period as a whole, influenced twentieth-century writers. Original, lucid and stimulating, each chapter is an important contribution to Victorian literary studies. Together, the contributors create an engaging discussion of the ways in which the Victorians saw themselves and of how their influence has persisted.