Rebecca N. Mitchell is reader in Victorian Literature and Culture at the University of Birmingham. She is the author of Victorian Lessons in Empathy and Difference, coeditor of the anniversary edition of George Meredith’s Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, and coauthor, with Joseph Bristow, of Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton: Literary History, Romanticism, and the Art of Forgery.
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Late nineteenth-century Britain experienced an unprecedented explosion of visual print culture and a simultaneous rise in literacy across social classes. New printing technologies facilitated quick and cheap dissemination of images—illustrated books, periodicals, cartoons, comics, and ephemera—to a mass readership. This Victorian visual turn prefigured the present-day impact of the Internet on how images are produced and shared, both driving and reflecting the visual culture of its time.