This book introduces students to the Victorian novel and its contexts, teaching strategies for reading and researching nineteenth-century literature. Combining close reading with background information and analysis it considers the Victorian novel as a product of the industrial age by focusing on popular texts including Dickens's Oliver Twist, Gaskell's North and South and Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge.'The Victorian Novel in Context examines the changing readership resulting from the growth of mass literacy and the effect that this had on the form of the novel. Taking texts from the early, mid and late Victorian period it encourages students to consider how serialization shaped the nineteenth-century novel. It highlights the importance of politics, religion and the evolutionary debate in 'classic' Victorian texts. Addressing key concerns including realist writing, literature and imperialism, urbanization and women's writing, it introduces students to a variety of the most important critical approaches to the novels. Introducing texts, contexts and criticism, this is a lively and up-to-date resource for anyone studying the Victorian novel.