1st Edition

The Devil and the Victorians
Supernatural Evil in Nineteenth-Century English Culture

ISBN 9780367444204
Published March 5, 2021 by Routledge
246 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

In recent decades, there has been a growing recognition of the significance of the supernatural in a Victorian context. Studies of nineteenth-century spiritualism, occultism, magic, and folklore have highlighted that Victorian England was ridden with spectres and learned magicians. Despite this growing body of scholarship, little historiographical work has addressed the Devil. This book demonstrates the significance of the Devil in a Victorian context, emphasising his pervasiveness and diversity. Drawing on a rich array of primary material, including theological and folkloric works, fiction, newspapers and periodicals, and broadsides and other ephemera, it uses the diabolic to explore the Victorians' complex and ambivalent relationship with the supernatural. Both the Devil and hell were theologically contested during the nineteenth century, with an increasing number of both clergymen and laypeople being discomfited by the thought of eternal hellfire. Nevertheless, the Devil continued to play a role in the majority of English denominations, as well as in folklore, spiritualism, occultism, popular culture, literature, and theatre. The Devil and the Victorians will appeal to readers interested in nineteenth-century English cultural and religious history, as well as the darker side of the supernatural.

Table of Contents


1. The Theological Devil

2. The Folkloric Devil

3. The Occult Devil

4. The Popular Devil

5. The Literary and Theatrical Devil


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Sarah Bartels is a cultural and religious historian specialising in the history of the supernatural in nineteenth-century England. She completed her PhD at the University of Queensland in 2019.