The nineteenth century was a period of extraordinary change, and the built structure of cities became a representation of progress. As a consequence the city and the idea of the city became important points of exploration in Victorian life and literature. According to Lynda Nead, an authority on nineteenth-century visual culture, an urban ‘subjectivity was not already in place when men and women occupied the streets of Victorian London, but was formed through the encounters, interactions and experiences of that occupation’ (‘Mapping the Self’ 167). The Australian colonies took part in this urban transformation, developing their own self-regarding subjectivities as they metamorphosed from ‘villages’ to sophisticated metropolitan centres. Like other new world societies they were subject to ‘swift population growth, ostentatious prosperity and boundless optimism’ (Proudfoot viii). While the largest colonial cities could not match London’s sheer size, they were not so far behind Glasgow, say, or Liverpool. Their prosperity and adoption of the latest technologies meant that their urban centres formed with dramatic speed.
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