The Victorian Web ranges across the whole spectrum of British culture in the Victorian era. It also includes some eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century background, and some early twentieth-century developments. These were years of great social change, of challenges to age-old religious certainties, of scientific, technological and geographical discoveries, and of an expanding empire. Horizons widened on every side. The website therefore explores a vast diversity of historical and cultural interactions, exploring their impact on Britain and looking at how the British influenced others. Uniquely, it aims to link all this material rather than present each webpage in isolation, and provides a variety of tools for navigating it successfully.
At the top of each webpage is a trail of digital "breadcrumbs." These serve a function similar to that envisaged by Hansel in the Grimms' fairytale: to help you find your way through this wealth of material. On the sitemap, or overview, of each large topic, the "bc"s suggest links to the other general subjects to which the present topic is related. For example, those at the top of the sitemap for social history include political history and religion, which both had a bearing on the Victorian way of life, as well as the usual link to the Victorian Web's homepage on the far left. The links in the list below this heading material will take you to various narrower aspects of social history like fashion, pantomime etc.
On most pages, however, the arrangement is a bit different. While the furthest left is still to the homepage, the furthest right is to the next item in the section to which the current page belongs. In between are links to the wider context of your subject. For example, if you are reading about Dickens's A Christmas Carol, the breadcrumbs will look like this: [Victorian Web Home —> Authors —> Charles Dickens —> Works —> The Christmas Books —> Next]. You may like to carry straight on to the next discussion, or you may prefer to go back a bit and look at Dickens's Christmas Books in general. This will show you that there are more than twenty other discussions of A Christmas Carol alone, and an even larger number of webpages about illustrations of it by different illustrators. Clicking on "Works" will help you find the larger context of A Christmas Carol within Dickens's output, and so on. So take time to explore, before returning to the homepage.
In each webpage, words that appear in blue, and lists under the heading "Related Material," are also links. Click on them to find out more about the subject under discussion. You'll generally be able to click on the author's name too, in order to confirm that the webpage comes from a reliable source. Please note that some webpages in the Visual Arts sections feature tall images on the left, and information about them on the right. Here, the links aren't in blue, so are less obvious. Even when the commentary continues below the image, you need to pass your mouse over the text to catch them (there are usually at least a few). Again, lists of "Related Material" on such pages are lists of links that you can click on. These take you directly to similar topics. Remember that lists on the index pages for each broad topic and sub-topic (Visual Arts, for example, or Stained Glass), are all live links.
In longer pages, typically transcripts of Victorian Web books or long articles, you'll sometimes find the notes placed in a column at the left. In these cases, you need to click on the superscript numbers in the main text. When you do so, you find the appropriate note appearing at the top of the left-hand column. After reading it, press the back arrow on your keyboard to return to the main body of the chapter or article, and continue reading the main text.
iv. Navigation tiles
In the general index on the homepage, in indexes for important subjects, and at the foot of each individual webpage, links are printed on the blue tiles which give the website its distinctive appearance. Again, clicking on these will allow you to find out more about the subject of your immediate interest, or its wider context. You'll usually find a "Next" tile at the right, which will take you to another painting by the same artist, another building by the same architect, another item designed by the same designer, and so on.
v. Search engine
The Victorian Web does have an efficient search facility, provided by Google. The link to this is on the homepage, at the foot of the diamond arrangement of tiles. If you've been unable to find exactly what you're looking for, click on this, and a search box will come up, into which you can then enter your search term.
Note: The Victorian Web was established at the beginning of the computer age: you can read more about its history here (yes, please click on the link!). It has seen many other sites come and go. Our editors are continually updating and sometimes re-arranging our material as new contributions come in. Links, whether to material inside our site, or to material on other websites (which we have consulted and cited in our bibliographies), may sometimes have been broken without our realising it. Please notify the webmaster if you find such links. Happy exploring!
Created 25 March 2019