The Victorian Short Fiction Project is a digital archive of short fiction from the Victorian era, 1837-1901. Since most short fiction during this period was published in periodicals, the texts collected here are drawn from the journals in which they first appeared. These journals range widely in subject matter, from The Ladies Companion at Home and Abroad, which covers topics of interest to the typical housewife, to The Savoy, which was home to many authors of the aesthetic movement, and from The Boy’s Own Paper, which takes adolescent boys as its audience, to Hood’s Comic Annual, which aims to merely amuse whomever might pick it up.
The short stories drawn from these journals and others like them represent a large range not only of subject matter, but also of the various literary styles current during the Victorian period. Echoes of the Romantic movement, examples of Realism at its height, and the vagaries of the fin-de-siecle are all represented in this collection. The two common variables among these texts are their mode and their length; they are all fictional prose narratives no longer than 30,000 words.
Though narratives of this length are plentiful in Victorian periodical literature, they have not been studied or anthologized to the extent of other major Victorian-era genres, such as novels, poetry, and non-fiction essays. This digital archive aims to select and preserve samples of the genre that can be used to study the nineteenth-century short story, a genre whose origins are most often associated with American and French literature. These narratives offer a glimpse into the everyday reading of an increasingly-literate Victorian population, and they still make highly entertaining reading today.
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