What did the Victorians think of Shakespeare? The twelve essays gathered here offer some answers through close examination of works by leading nineteenth-century novelists, poets and critics including Scott, Dickens, Collins, Trollope, Eliot, James, Tennyson, Browning, Ruskin, the scholar-critic Mary Cowden Clarke and the actor George Vandenhoff. Shakespeare's characters, stories and words turn out to be integral to such public events as the Great Exhibition of 1851, a fund-raising show at the Royal Albert Hall in 1884, and the death of the Poet Laureate in 1892. The conclusion emerging from this volume is that Shakespeare was indispensable to the Victorians. He provided them with ways of thinking about the authority of the past, about the emergence of a new mass culture, about the relations between artistic and industrial production, about the nature of creativity, about memory and mourning, about racial and sexual difference, and about individual and national identity.Published in association with the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.