The Environmentally Modified Self: Acclimatization and Identity in Early Victorian Literature

  • Roslyn Jolly
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Acclimatization—adaptation to non-native habitats—both fascinated and frightened the Victorians, because it suggested that personal identity was not essential, but rather could be moulded by physical environment. A specific focus of acclimatization-anxiety for Victorian writers was the notion that English men and women might acquire, under enervating atmospheric influences, attributes of individual sloth and social stagnation commonly associated with the populations of warm-climate Southern Europe. This essay analyses expressions of, and attempts to manage, such anxiety about acclimatization in two English travel narratives of the 1840s—Frances Trollope’s A Visit to Italy (1842) and Charles Dickens’ Pictures from Italy (1846)—and compares these with the ideas about self and environment manifested in Alfred Tennyson’s paired poems “Mariana” (1830) and “Mariana in the South” (1832, 1842).


Victorian literature Acclimatization Climate Environment Identity Tennyson 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roslyn Jolly
    • 1
  1. 1.School of the Arts and Media, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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