Eric C. Brown


Literary fairy tales proliferated in England under the reign of Queen Victoria, and many of their constructions of power and gender evoke her own intricate legacy. The Queen embodied numerous paradoxes – female authority in a culture preoccupied with domesticity foremost – and English writers responded to such seeming contradictions in a variety of ways. Paget, Thackeray, Dickens, Carroll, Ingelow and others all variously explore the complexities of Victoria; characters behave as power figures without power or even suggest the unacceptability of female rulership. Indeed, all allusions to the Queen herself are often overt. Fairy tales particularly lent themselves to these conflicting configurations: they offered the opportunity for "quiet rebellion" against social norms, but in other manifestations also served as didactic upholders of the status quo. Victoria, whose iconic representations ranged from Titania to the Queen of Hearts, provided an array of imaginative possibilities for a genre that began to flourish only after her ascent