Worlds Beyond: Miniatures and Victorian Fiction

Worlds Beyond: Miniatures and Victorian Fiction

Yale University Press

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An innovative study of how the Victorians used books, portraits, fairies, microscopes, and dollhouses to imagine miniature worlds beyond perception

In 1856, Elizabeth Gaskell discovered a trove of handmade miniature books that were created by Charlotte and Branwell Brontë in their youth and that, as Gaskell later recalled, “contained an immense amount of manuscript, in an inconceivably small space.” Far from being singular wonders, these two-inch volumes were part of a wide array of miniature marvels that filled the drawers and pockets of middle- and upper-class Victorians. Victorian miniatures pushed the boundaries of scientific knowledge, mechanical production, and human perception. To touch a miniature was to imagine what lay beyond these boundaries.
In Worlds Beyond, Laura Forsberg reads major works of fiction by George Eliot, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Lewis Carroll alongside minor genres like the doll narrative, fairy science tract, and thumb Bible. Forsberg guides readers through microscopic science, art history, children’s culture, and book production to show how Victorian miniatures offered scripts for expansive fantasies of worlds beyond perception.


Laura Forsberg is assistant professor of English at Rockhurst University. She was previously an NEH fellow at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. Her articles have appeared in Victorian Studies, SEL: Studies in English Literature 1600–1900, and other journals.

Pub Date: 2021
Format: Hardback with bw illus.
Pages: 296
Size: 6.50 x 9.50 inches

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