The Victorian era was a time of great change and prosperity. Britain was undergoing the most tremendous development. Scientific discoveries had prompted the Industrial Revolution, which had made Britain the world leader in iron and steel production. Science itself was undergoing a revolution, celebrated by the groundbreaking work of the Royal Institution, which was led for part of Victoria's reign by the brilliant Michael Faraday. Even the understanding of humankind's place in the world was being redefined by the theories of the great naturalist Charles Darwin. Factories powered by British steam engines were creating huge fortunes. Trade was booming. The new towns that grew up around industrial centres quickly grew into major cities. The large numbers of people who poured into these places demanded a voice. In literature, in the works of Charles Dickens, the lives of ordinary men and women became the central stories of great novels for the first time.
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