Degenerates: Heredity and Morality in Victorian Fiction

Activity: Disseminating Research Public Engagement


Public talk as part of The Written Word: History, Heritage and Heartache, Pint of Science Festival


Many 19th century doctors and scientists theorised that a huge range of character traits and behaviours (ranging from alcoholism, to insanity, to criminality) were passed down by biological inheritance in such a powerful way that children were fated to repeat the failings of their parents. Such views were widely accepted, and affected how those who did not conform to moral and social conventions were perceived and treated. This talk considers how a popular novel, Wilkie Collins’s Armadale (1864), engaged with these views, and tried to champion those who were considered undesirable “by nature".
Period14 May 2018
Event titleDegenerates: Heredity and Morality in Victorian Fiction (Pint of Science Festival)
Event typeFestival
LocationSheffieldShow on map