The Science of History in Victorian Britain

Making the Past Speak

New attitudes towards history in nineteenth-century Britain saw a rejection of romantic, literary techniques in favour of a professionalized, scientific methodology. The development of history as a scientific discipline was undertaken by several key historians of the Victorian period, influenced by German scientific history and British natural philosophy. This study examines parallels between the professionalization of both history and science at the time, which have previously been overlooked. Hesketh challenges accepted notions of a single scientific approach to history. Instead, he draws on a variety of sources—monographs, lectures, correspondence—from eminent Victorian historians to uncover numerous competing discourses.

about the author

Ian Hesketh

Ian Hesketh is associate professor of history at the University of Queensland. He is an intellectual historian and historian of science. He has written extensively on the history of evolution, the history of historical writing, the philosophy of history, and the history of religious thought.

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Ian Hesketh