Famous Victorian Inventors

Lord Shaftesbury (1801-1885)

Anthony Ashley Cooper, the eldest son of the 6th Earl of Shaftesbury, was born on 28th April, 1801. He became the Earl of Shaftesbury in 1851.

Lord Shaftesbury was a politician who attempted to improve children’s lives during the Victorian times

At the age of 25, he became a member of Parliament. He began to take an interest in the plight of poor children after reading newspaper reports about labour in industry.

1833 He proposed that children should work for a maximum of 10 hours a day

1834 the Factory Act was made law. It was now illegal for children under 9 to be employed in textile factories

1842 Coal Mines Act
No child or woman should work underground

He was also interested in education for working children. He was chairman of the Ragged Schools Union – an organisation that set up over a hundred schools for poor children

Lewis Carrol (1832 -1898)
(real name Charles Lutwidge Dogson)
He was born in 1832 and was a lecturer in mathematics at Oxford University. He was the author of the well known book Alice in Wonderland which he wrote in 1865.

Alice in Wonderland came from stories he told to Alice Lidell and her sisters (the daughters of the Dean of his Oxford college) during a boat trip one sunny afternoon in 1862.

Charles Darwin (1809 -1882)
Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. In 1831 he joined a scientific expedition bound for South America and the Pacific Ocean on a sailing ship called The Beagle (1831 – 36). He was to be the ship’s naturalist, the expert on plants and animals.

In the Galapagos Islands Darwin noticed how the same species of birds, cut off from centuries on different islands, had developed in quite different ways. This and many other amazing discoveries led him to his theory of ‘evolution by natural selection’. This theory lies behind all modern ideas on how different species of living things have become to be the way they are and how they will change in the future.

Joseph Lister (1827 – 1912)
Enemy of germs who started antiseptic surgery

Lister was born on the 5 April 1827 in Upton, Essex.

In 1853 Lister, a young English doctor, became a house surgeon at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. He was horrified at the number of patients whose wounds became infected and went rotten.

At that time no one knew what caused infection. It wasn’t until 1865 that Lister heard about the great French Scientist, Louis Pasteur. Pasteur had discovered that diseases are caused by tiny living things, now called ‘germs’. Lister realised it was important to kill the germs in wounds so the wounds wouldn’t get infected. Lister used carbonic acid as the most effective germ-killer – or ‘antiseptic’.

The results were a lot less rotting of wounds than the used to be and the number of deaths dramatically fell.


Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)
Stevenson was born in 1850 and was a scottish author who wrote Treasure Island and Kidnapped which are two of the most popular children’s stories ever written.
Find out more from the BBC site


Alexander Graham Bell
(1847 – 1922)
Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Bell is best known for his invention of the telephone. Many inventors had been working on the idea of sending human speech by wire, but Bell was the first to succeed.

In 1876 at the age of 29 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.  The most famous Victorian Inventor.


Sir Robert Peel
(1788 – 1850)
Robert Peel was born in Bury, Lancashire, on 5th February, 1788. He was Prime Minister twice, 1834-5 and 1841-6 and one of the greatest Prime Ministers of the nineteenth century. As home Secretary he created the modern police force, unarmed and in blue so as to be as unlike the army as possible.  Was not really an Victorian inventor, but important.

Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)
Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England on 7 February 1812. He spent much of his life in Kent and London. Charles Dickens wrote some of the most popular and widely read novels of the 19th century, from Oliver Twist to A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Dickens had ten children. He died of a stroke in 1870 and is buried at Westminster Abbey.  You could say that this Victorian inventor was the creator of some of the greatest novels of his time.

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