The Victorian Women Writers Project
West Chester University
This remarkable collection offers 200 texts by approximately 60 Victorian women writers. Few of these authors are well known today, but they made important contributions to the reading material of the era. Many of these works were not easily available before the introduction of this well-organized website.
The entire collection can be accessed with a few clicks of the mouse. Authors and their works are alphabetized for a quick survey that includes poetry, novels, and how-to books. Texts are also listed by year, genre, and through a timeline.
What makes the project truly remarkable is the superb indexing made possible by sophisticated text-markup and usage of metadata. It is possible to conduct a keyword search on basically any topic. If that word (or phrase) appears in any text, a reference for it, including author and title, is listed and highlighted. If the word or phrase appears multiple times in a work, each reference is listed. Clicking on the highlighted word takes the reader to its place in the text.
“Waterloo” appears 14 times in the collection while “Napoleon” is included 31 times (in 24 different works). “Bonaparte” shows up an incredible 271 times. The possibilities of this for a research project are endless, whether it is tracing the impact of Napoleon and the Napoleonic wars in 19th-century British society or tracing the transformation of language itself. The word “industry”, for example, appears 57 times in the collection. Until mid-century, it generally meant “hardwork” or “resourcefulness.” After midcentury, it became generally referred to something to do with the industrial revolution (which might give another meaning to the phrase).
This website that should prove an excellent source for student research projects on the social and cultural history of the Victorian era.