Victorians Undone: Tales Of The Flesh In The Age Of Decorum

Hardcover | March 21, 2017

byKathryn Hughes

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'A work of formidable scholarship that propels the reader from idea to idea. Reading it is like unravelling the bandages on a mummy to find the face of the past staring back in all its terrible and poignant humanity' Financial TimesA groundbreaking account of what it was like to live in a Victorian body from one of our best historians.Why did the great philosophical novelist George Eliot feel so self-conscious that her right hand was larger than her left?Exactly what made Darwin grow that iconic beard in 1862, a good five years after his contemporaries had all retired their razors?Who knew Queen Victoria had a personal hygiene problem as a young woman and the crisis that followed led to a hurried commitment to marry Albert?What did John Sell Cotman, a handsome drawing room operator who painted some of the most exquisite watercolours the world has ever seen, feel about marrying a woman whose big nose made smart people snigger?How did a working-class child called Fanny Adams disintegrate into pieces in 1867 before being reassembled into a popular joke, one we still reference today, but would stop, appalled, if we knew its origins?Kathryn Hughes follows a thickened index finger or deep baritone voice into the realms of social history, medical discourse, aesthetic practise and religious observance - its language is one of admiring glances, cruel sniggers, an implacably turned back. The result is an eye-opening, deeply intelligent, groundbreaking account that brings the Victorians back to life and helps us understand how they lived their lives.

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'A work of formidable scholarship that propels the reader from idea to idea. Reading it is like unravelling the bandages on a mummy to find the face of the past staring back in all its terrible and poignant humanity' Financial TimesA groundbreaking account of what it was like to live in a Victorian body from one of our best historians....

Kathryn Hughes is a highly-regarded social historian and biographer whose work has won major awards, including the James Tait Black Prize (1999). Her two most recent books, the best-selling The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton and George Eliot: The Last Victorian, were turned into major dramas by the BBC. She was educated at Oxf...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:400 pagesPublished:March 21, 2017Publisher:HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0007548362

ISBN - 13:9780007548361

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'Fascinating and richly illuminating exploration of how the Victorians saw their - and other people's - bodies . Kathryn Hughes has triumphantly succeeded in re-animating her subjects by concentrating on just one part of their anatomy . Intriguing, gleefully contentious and - appropriately enough - fizzing with life, Victorians Undone is the most original history book I have read in a long while' John Preston, Daily Mail'Victorians Undone is history so alive you can smell its reek . an enthusiastic romp through a historical period that Hughes know thoroughly . Victorians Undone offers a jaunty counterweight to more sober volumes . With her love of bodily detail, Hughes does indeed put the carnal back into biography' Lisa Appignanesi, Telegraph'A dazzling experiment in life writing . Every page fizzes with the excitement of fresh discoveries . Elegantly sidestepping the usual clichés of Victorian history . Each page becomes a window on to a world that is far stranger than we might expect' Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Guardian'Hughes has chosen to focus on the bodies of five famous Victorians, dealing with each of them in a beautifully constructed essay narrated not only with wit and gusto , but a clear sense of purpose' Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday, *****'Skilfully unwraps how the repressed Victorians really felt about their bodies' Sunday Times'Hughes is never less than intelligent and industrious' Mark Bostridge, The Spectator