Victorian Shades

  • George H. Gilpin


Horatio Herbert Kitchener, standing amid the ruins of conquered Khartoum in September, 1898, considered sending the skull of his enemy to the Royal College of Surgeons for study and display.1 He felt inspired both by a victor’s sense of trophy and a Victorian’s enthusiasm for measuring heads, and the Mahdi’s skull, which had been brought to Kitchener after he had ordered the Muslim leader’s tomb destroyed, was unusually large and well shaped. According to the fashionable views of the craniologists, study of it could well contribute to the distinguishing between the qualities of the civilized man and those of the barbarian. Indeed, Paul Broca, the French anthropologist (1824–1880), thought that the shape of a skull made all the difference in comparing the hero to the savage:

Frontal deformation produced blind passions, ferocious instincts, and animal courage, all of which I would willingly call occipital courage. We must not confound it with true courage, frontal courage, which we may call Caucasian courage.2


Frontal Deformation Present Reality Blind Passion Head Echo Ivory Trade 
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Copyright information

© George H. Gilpin 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • George H. Gilpin
    • 1
  1. 1.MiamiUSA

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