From a growing awareness of the depletion of energy resources and the perils of environmental degradation to the founding of self-sufficient communities and the establishment of the National Trust, the concept of sustainability began to take on a new importance in the Victorian period. An emerging sense of the fragility and instability of human and natural resources, and the deeply complex interweaving of the two, led many Victorians to consider how to preserve or protect what they valued, and how individuals, communities (or even nations) could survive and flourish in a world of finite resources. This collection explores not only nascent understandings of sustainability in ecological or environmental contexts but also encompasses consideration of the problem of psychological sustainability and emotional wellbeing in response to the upheavals of modernity. With chapters by scholars working in literary studies, history, cultural studies, and sustainability studies, the volume encompasses a wide diversity of topics, objects, and authors ranging from the 1850s to the early twentieth century. Victorian Sustainability offers new perspectives on debates about sustainability in the present by showing how our current concerns derive from an earlier historical context.

chapter |13 pages


Sustainability and the Victorian Anthropocene
ByWendy Parkins

chapter 1|18 pages

A not so “stationary state”

John Stuart Mill’s sustainable imagination
ByJohn Parham

chapter 2|19 pages

Sustaining The Earthly Paradise

ByJohn Holmes

chapter 3|18 pages

Transatlantic dialogues in sustainability

Edward Carpenter, Henry David Thoreau and the literature of simplification
ByPeter Adkins

chapter 4|16 pages

‘Whales and all that move in the waters’

Christina Rossetti’s ecology of grace
ByEmma Mason

chapter 5|20 pages

Mindfulness in early Victorian travel writing

ByRoslyn Jolly

chapter 6|21 pages

The country in the city

Dickens and the idyllic river
ByMary L. Shannon

chapter 7|20 pages

Guano, science and Victorian high farming

An agro-ecological perspective
ByLesley Kinsley

chapter 8|19 pages

‘Human language can make a shift’

Late-Victorian tentacular cities and the genealogy of ‘sprawl’
ByMatthew Ingleby

chapter 9|15 pages

Aestheticism and decadence in Patrick Geddes’s socioeconomics

ByMichael Shaw

chapter 10|24 pages

The Land that England lost

W.H. Hudson’s The Purple Land, Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company, and the romance of the outlands
ByPaul Young

chapter 11|16 pages

The queer ecology of George Egerton’s neo-paganism

ByDennis Denisoff

chapter |6 pages


Interglacial Victorians
ByGillen D’Arcy Wood