Nineteenth-Century Disability:  Cultures & Contexts

Browse Items (26 total)

  • Collection: 1837 to 1860

MaryBartonFrontispiece.jpg
References to disability abound in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (1848): Margaret experiences progressive blindness from cataracts (though at the end of the novel she is said to regain her sight); the aging Alice…

Heir of Redclyffe Illustration.pdf
The Heir of Redclyffe (1853) was Charlotte M. Yonge’s first bestseller, establishing her reputation as an enjoyable as well as an improving novelist; as one critic wrote nearly twenty years later, “Anything written by the author of ‘The Heir of…

Mrs. Clennam.jpg
Little Dorrit, first published in monthly installments between 1855 and 1857, is arguably Charles Dickens's most disability-focused novel. In this later and darker work, Dickens uses the trope of disability to emphasize the disease—social,…

DaveyMesmerism.jpg
Mesmerism[1] was the term used by Victorians for the procedure during which the practitioner, or mesmerist, would fix his or her (usually his) gaze on a subject or make passes over their body in order to treat and even cure disabilities and illnesses…

Bleak House Sharpshooters.jpg
While many of Charles Dickens’s novels and nonfiction works depicted people with disabilities, his novel Bleak House, published serially over 1852-1853 and in volume form in 1853, is veritably full of characters with bodies and minds deemed…

orthopaedia.jpeg
Orthopaedic medicine began as a general practice of child rearing in France with Nicolas Andry’s Orthopaedia (1741).  (Andry’s work was translated into English in 1743.)  In the mid-nineteenth century, orthopaedic medicine became a specialized…

Mrs. Skewton's Bath Chair.jpg
Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son (1846–1848) attests to his career-long interest in chair-bound characters[1]—characters who, because of illness, injury, or egotism, are confined or confine themselves to a “wheeled chair” (alternately…

Jane Eyre.jpg
Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 sensation, Jane Eyre, ends with a dramatic climax in which the hero is blinded and maimed. This ending is often read as a symbolic castration.  Richard Chase first proposed this Freudian reading of Rochester's disabilities…

CharlotteYonge.jpg
Yonge’s 1853 novel The Heir of Redclyffe was the bestseller which made her name, but it was The Daisy Chain (1856) which cemented her reputation. In the preface, Yonge describes it as “a Family Chronicle” (v), and this was the genre with which…

Signora Neroni.jpg
Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers (1857), the second novel in his “Chronicles of Barsetshire” series, details the public ecclesiastic conflicts between the newly powerful Evangelicals of the Church and the reigning Tory conservatives.…
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