1st Edition

Victorians and Modern Greece Literary and Cultural Encounters

Edited By Efterpi Mitsi, Anna Despotopoulou Copyright 2025
    256 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Victorians and Modern Greece examines the representation of nineteenth-century Greece in British magazines, fiction, poetry, and travel writing, revealing the popular reception of the modern nation in the Victorian period. Reflecting upon the tensions – ancient and modern, oriental and European, primitive and developed – emerging from Victorian texts on Modern Greece, the twelve essays in this volume analyse these texts and their role in reconceptualising the national identity and culture of Britain and Greece through their encounter with each other.

    Featuring writers such as Mary Shelley, Christopher Wordsworth, William Thackeray, Theodore Bent, Isabella Fyvie Mayo, Oscar Wilde, and Vernon Lee, as well as anonymous authors publishing in popular periodicals, and a broad range of topics from travel and fashion to political crises and the pervasive appeal of ruins, this book tells the story of Modern Greece from British perspectives, at a time when Greece was struggling to achieve self-definition among conflicting geopolitical interests. Victorians and Modern Greece also opens up Victorian studies to minor or marginal voices and narratives which addressed worldly concerns and Britain’s global affiliations.

    With its comparative perspective, this book will be of interest to scholars and students of both Victorian literature and culture and of the culture and history of modern Greece.

    Efterpi Mitsi and Anna Despotopoulou,



    Part I: Travels


    1. Sebastian Marshall,

    Christopher Wordsworth’s Greece: Popular Topography from the Illustrated Serial to the Gift Book

    2. Chryssa Marinou,

    William M. Thackeray in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Athens

    3. Roberta Micallef,

    The Incongruous Greece of Lady Annie Brassey


    Part II: Periodicals


    4. Konstantina Georganta,

    The Cretan Question in Punch Magazine, 1869-1898.

    5. Efterpi Mitsi,

    Fashioning Greece in The Woman’s World

    6. Mathilde Pyrli,

    “Deliciously primitive”: Insular Greece through the Eyes of Theodore Bent, 1883-1888


    Part III: Fictions


    7. Maria Schoina,

    “[A] bold and dangerous freedom”: Representations of Greece in Mary Shelley’s Late Fiction

    8. Anna Despotopoulou,

    Held to Ransom: The Adventures of Greece in Victorian Popular Fiction

    9. Vassiliki Kolocotroni,

    “Doing one’s own little share”: Weaponising Smallness in Isabella Fyvie Mayo’s A Daughter of the Klephts, or a Girl of Modern Greece


    Part IV: Synchronies


    10. Churnjeet Mahn,

    Whiteness in Ruins: Victorian Women Writers in Greece

    11. Michèle Mendelssohn,

    A Janus-Faced Friend: Oscar Wilde and Modern Greece’s Queer Future

    12. Victoria Mills,

    “Greece at last!”: Desire, Aesthetics, and the Ecology of Ruin in Vernon Lee’s Greek Travel Writing


    David Roessel,



    Efterpi Mitsi is Professor in English Literature and Culture at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her publications focus on classical reception in English literature, travellers to Greece, and word and image relations. She is the author of Greece in Early English Travel Writing, 1596-1682 (2017), editor of Troilus and Cressida: A Critical Reader (2019), and co-editor of six volumes, including Hotel Modernisms (2023) and Ruins in the Literary and Cultural Imagination (2019). She was the Principal Investigator of the research project ‘Representations of Modern Greece in Victorian Popular Culture’ (2019-2023) funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research & Innovation.


    Anna Despotopoulou is Professor in English Literature and Culture at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her research and publications focus on representations of gender, space, and mobility in nineteenth and twentieth-century fiction. She is the author of Women and the Railway, 1850-1915 (2015), and she has co-edited six books including Hotel Modernisms (2023), Ruins in the Literary and Cultural Imagination (2019), and Henry James and The Supernatural (2011). Her research project, ‘Hotels and the Modern Subject, 1890-1940’ (2019-2023), was funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research & Innovation, and she also participated in the project ‘Representations of Modern Greece in Victorian Popular Culture.’