Quiz: Which Victorian Novel Should You Read?

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Want to explore the world of Victorian novels, but just not sure where to begin? Answer these quiz questions and I’ll match you to a Victorian novel that’s just your cup of tea. Stack of vintage books on an antique chair

For me, when I think of “classic books,” the first species of book that comes to mind is the Victorian novel. Perhaps this is because we have so many novels from the Victorian era, novels that greatly influenced genres and characters and plots right up to today.

Or perhaps it’s just because I personally enjoy reading this type of classic(:

Regardless, the many Victorian novels that are regarded as classics deserve that status because they have stood the test of time. They were interesting and well-written back then, and they are interesting and well-written today.

When was the Victorian era in literature?

A lot of people have the vague notion that “Victorian literature” refers to pretty much anything from Jane Austen to World War I. However, those parameters are far too generous. If you want to be accurate, know that a Victorian novel is a piece of literature written when Queen Victoria of England was on the throne. So 1837 to 1901.

That means that Jane Austen, who died in 1817, was not a Victorian novelist. Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë, who completed their first books in and 1837 and 1847 respectively, were. And then you have authors like Henry James, the Beethovens of literature who straddle two periods. (In James’s case, he was both a Victorian and a Modernist.) Realistically, the average reader isn’t a walking encyclopedia of dates, so if you call Frankenstein a Victorian novel no one is going to haul you to Newgate prison.

All dating aside, I would like to invite you to plumb the period of Victorian literature for yourself, because you will find some very exciting, odd, funny, sad, satisfying books therein. Please don’t let a couple hundred years of distance scare you off. Many of these old books are wonderfully accessible, even if they contain a more expansive and eloquent vocabulary than what you read and hear today.

Which Victorian novel should you read?

Now, where to begin? With hundreds of books published during Victoria’s reign, how can you be sure to find one that you, personally, enjoy? It can be a bit of a time investment, after all!

If you’ll allow me, I shall serve as your guide. I’ve prepared a short literary quiz to help you pick which Victorian novel you should read. Without further ado, let’s begin. Click the red button below to get started. (And don’t forget to share this quiz with people whom you think ought to read more Victorian lit, alright?)

More Quizzes for Book Lovers

If this puts you in a quizzical mood, go here to take the quiz where you test your knowledge of famous first lines from classic books! When you’re done with that, take this quiz to discover your ideal fictional vacation spot!

Quiz: Which Victorian Novel Should You Read?
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29 Comments

  1. Wow, that was great fun! I got Woman in White, which I have read and enjoyed. I think I’ll try the quiz again to see if I can get something I haven’t read.

  2. This was truly so fun! I got “Far From the Maddening Crowd,” which I’ve heard of but never thought much of. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve read a full Hardy novel before! Going to book it at the library presently.

    1. I hope you love it! There are two things that most people know about Hardy: 1. that his stories are rich in the landscape of rural, bygone England, and 2. that his tales tend to be depressing and tragic! Madding Crowd is less depressing and tragic than his other novels, which makes me really like it, but just a “warning” that if you read other books by him they might end less happily! But I’d read his books anyway, for the settings.

  3. Thank you for making the quiz 🙂 My suggestion was Villette, which I have always had on my list. Hopefully I can find a copy once the public libraries reopen here in the UK!

  4. I love that quiz! I took it twice a couple weeks apart and both times I got The Warden by Anthony Trollope. I’ve never heard of it or him, but I learned it’s a six-book series, so now the whole series is on my Christmas list. What fun! Thank you for working that up for your Society friends. I’m sharing with all my bookish people. Blessings to you!

    1. Thank you! Trollope is great for humor and vivid characters. Sometimes people say Dickens characters–while memorable–are a bit caricature-ish. But Trollope’s people you might actually know in real life!

  5. This was so fun! I could probably take this quiz a half dozen different ways, some choices were so hard to makes! I got Far From the Madding Crowd, which I have been hearing about lately and was intrigued by. Now to see if I can get my hands on it!

  6. I got “Far from the Madding Crowd” I’m ashamed to say I’ve never heard of it, but I can’t wait to start reading!

  7. The quiz is so interesting ! And thanks for the piece of introduction on Victorian literature, I have learnt more about it now ! I have got far from the madding crowd , have heard of it yet never know the story. I have seen your comment saying that most Hardy’s books are depressing I wonder how did I get this as my type , I don’t mind exploring it a bit though. I somehow feel that I might also try Trollope’s writing !

    1. Yes, read it! Even though I don’t typically like depressing books, Hardy’s scenic descriptions speak to me because they encapsulate a bygone era of the England I love. But Madding Crowd has a peaceful and lovely ending, even though some vagaries of life come first(: And Trollope is really fun. The Warden is pretty timely, too, with its satire against the media.

  8. I got ‘Bleak House’ – looking forward to it. I have previously read ‘Little Dorrit’ & ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Dickens.

    1. Great! Bleak House is such a rewarding read. I love watching the plots play out, and enjoyed the bit of gothic elements that show up. The BBC adaptation w/ Charles Dance is well worth a watch (after you read the novel, so no spoilers!)

  9. I was expecting a Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell novel. But i got Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. I havent read that book, but im looking forward.

  10. This was so well put together!
    I got North and South by Gaskell, which is already one of my favorite books of all time, so very accurate too 🙂

    1. Wow, that’s uncanny! Good to know my quiz is accurately matching people with their books! Madding Crowd is so beautiful. I just loved sinking in to Hardy’s world, and following all the bends of the plot…really not sure where Hardy would take me!

  11. I just found your blog and I’m loving everything about it! Took this quiz and got A Portrait of a Lady. I’m excited to dig into it, and all of the other classics that are unknown to me. (I’m ashamed to say that, as I work at a library!)

    1. Welcome, Jean! I hope you enjoy Portrait of a Lady! Henry James writes beautifully, and I love Isabel Archer! There are so many great classics to explore, aren’t there? More than I’ll ever have time for, sadly, but one can try(;

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