This monograph is a wide-ranging and sophisticated analysis of representations in text and image of the English past between 1830 and 1870. It consists of a series of inter-related case-studies of illustrated history books, ranging from editions of David Humes History of England to W. H. Ainsworths The Tower of London (1840). It contributes to present debates on nationalism, highlighting the complex and variable nature of cultural constructions of identity. Simultaneously, if offers an overall interpretation of historiographical change in early and mid-Victorian Britain, focusing in particular on the transition from picturesque reconstructions of the English past to the scientific approaches of the professional historian. Genuinely interdisciplinary, Picturing the Past presents new perspectives on traditional studies of Victorian historiography, literature, and illustration. It explores relationships between text and image, author, illustrator, and publisher, in the production of illustrated historical texts, often drawing on neglected material in publishers archives.
The tendency to analyse text and image, fiction and non-fiction, popular and elite publications in isolation from each other is challenged in the interests of a more complex and nuanced portrait of the middle-class Victorian historical consciousness.