British people in the 19th century were often aware that they were living in a revolutionary age. They were excited by their world. Britannia 'ruled the waves' and they were surrounded by change.
The Industrial Revolution brought factories, mines and machinery. Towns grew rapidly and with them came slums as well as elegant city centres. Steam trains and the Royal Mail made communication easier. There were massive advances in medicine and public health. Political and social reforms changed people's lives and at a personal level, there were lots of little developments from umbrellas to bicycles.
The Victorian age was a time of confidence. The Victorians thought that, even if their society was not yet perfect, they were just about to achieve perfection. They believed in self-help, and emphasised strict morals.
By 1851, British society had become divided into social classes:
By 1900 the class system remained, but it was beginning to break apart: