Science, Medicine, and Aristocratic Lineage in Victorian Popular Fiction

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Science, Medicine, and Lineage in Popular Fiction of the Long Nineteenth Century explores the dialogue between popular literature and medical and scientific discourse in terms of how they represent the highly visible an pathologized British aristocratic body. This books explores and complicates the two major portrayals of aristocrats in nineteenth-century literature: that of the medicalised, frail, debauched, and diseased aristocrat, and that of the heroic, active, beautiful ‘noble’, both of which are frequent and resonant in popular fiction of the long nineteenth century. Abigail Boucher argues that the concept of class in the long nineteenth century implicitly includes notions of blood, lineage, and bodily ‘correctness’, and that ‘class’ was therefore frequently portrayed as an empirical, scientific, and medical certainty. Due to their elevated and highly visual social positions, both historical and fictional aristocrats were frequently pathologized in the public mind and watched for signs of physical excellence or deviance. Using popular fiction, Boucher establishes patterns across decades, genres, and demographics and considers how these patterns react to, normalise, or feed into the advent of new scientific and medical understandings.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages237
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-41141-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-41140-3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • Victorian Literature
  • Victorian literature
  • Nineteenth-Century Fiction
  • Nineteenth century
  • nineteenth century
  • Popular Fiction
  • Medicine
  • Science (General)
  • class studies
  • aristocracy
  • popular culture
  • Genre
  • Medicine and science in literature
  • long Nineteenth Century
  • lineage
  • heredity


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