Gertrude Himmelfarb — National Endowment for the Humanities

Caroline, Kim. "Gertrude Himmelfarb." National Endowment for the Humanities. 2004.


As one of the leading scholars of Victorian studies, Gertrude Himmelfarb has tried to dispel stereotypes about the Victorian world.

“It’s not quite a respectable word yet,” she says. “It’s now used as an epithet, as a derogatory or pejorative word meaning excessively puritanical, repressive, oppressive, hypocritical, and so on. And, of course, in some ways it was all of that compared to our society.” Considered from the perspective of its own time, “Victorian society was the least exploitative, the least repressive, the least tyrannical society in the world,” says Himmelfarb. “In many respects it was the most open, the most reform minded, the most tolerant. It gave the most promise for improvement–economic, social, and political improvement.”

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