Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 20 (1989)
There is an old adage that if you have a large problem, the best way to tackle it is to break it down into small parts and deal with each in turn. The trouble with this theory is that if your problem is as large as the Victorian era the resultant number of parts is so huge that they resemble the unconnected pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, each individual piece having some value in its own right, but not giving an idea of the complete picture.
The reign of Queen Victoria, the longest in British history, witnessed an unprecedented explosion of progress in all facets of human activity. This enormous fecundity, the number of personalities involved, the ideas expounded and the frontiers pushed back make the task of recording it all such a daunting one that one feels the compilers of this encyclopedia were very brave to contemplate it. Within the limits suggested above, I think they have succeeded.