The last years of Queen Victoria’s reign saw the end of the three-decker novel which had served British fiction as a standard since Scott and with it the collapse of the dominance of the circulating library system. By the 1890s pressures which had been steadily gathering strength through the century combined to effect a literary and publishing upheaval which has had consequences lasting up to the present day. Before looking in detail at the work of Hardy and Lawrence for evidence of these changes this chapter gives an overview of the factors which brought them about: social context, readership, literary or institutional context and authors.
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