The Evolution of Environmentalism in British Victorian Society




Renberg, Elaine

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The Industrial Revolution remains ingrained as one of the most transformational periods in Great Britain's history. As industry continued to grow through the later half of the 1860s, however, a quieter revolution began in the wake of the Industrial Revolution’s destruction, springing up in the corners of society and gaining traction through the turn of the century. My thesis examines the changes in Victorian society’s perception of the natural environment and its relationship to urban life, as reflected in the environmental conversation between novels, periodicals, and other texts. Through explorations of the depiction of the Victorian environment, I identify a growing sense of environmentalism in the Victorian age as reflected in negative framings of the deteriorating city, attention to positive effects of the environment on human life, and action taken to preserve and implement natural spaces in cities. These explorations elucidate the true interdisciplinary nature of environmentalism and its formation as well as illuminate a clean city environment as a social justice issue.