The Science of History in Victorian Britain

The Science of History in Victorian Britain:
Making the Past Speak

Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century

Ian Hesketh, Pickering & Chatto Press                               Hb: 240pp: January 2011
978 1 84893 126 8: 234x156mm: £60.00/$99.00

New attitudes towards history in nineteenth-century Britain saw a rejection of romantic, literary techniques in favour of a professionalized, scientific methodology. The development of history as a scientific discipline was undertaken by several key historians of the Victorian period, influenced by German scientific history and British natural philosophy. This study examines parallels between the professionalization of both history and science at the time, which have previously been overlooked.

Hesketh challenges accepted notions of a single scientific approach to history. Instead, he draws on a variety of sources – monographs, lectures, correspondence – from eminent Victorian historians to uncover numerous competing discourses.

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