The latter half of the Victorian era was a liberal and outspoken time – its most representative people were not the aristocrats or the shopkeepers, but men with university education, says George Trevelyan in his book English Social History. These were “gentlemanly, bearded intellectuals, reader of John Stuart Mill, Charles Darwin, Aldous Huxley, Matthew Arnold, George Eliott and Robert Browning.”

The impact of Darwinism was not yet universally felt...

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