Giants of the 19th Century

Ref: C2226651

There is no doubt that in the 19th century some remarkable individuals rose to prominence - names that have become part of our culture. We will not only study the public persona of each of these19th century 'personalities', but also consider their private lives - and some aspects that only patient research over the years has now revealed. What were the contributions and legacies of 19th century 'giants' such as Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Gaskell, John Ruskin, Annie Besant, Oscar Wilde and others? We will also investigate the historical background to their lives in a century where the world was rapidly changing.

Additional information about this course

Half term break on 20/02/2020

Course aim

The male and female personalities we will study all made their mark on 19th century life, whether in the fields of literature and the arts, medical advancements, politics or other claims to fame. They still attract historical enquiry today.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Define the part played by these individuals in 19th century life.
  • Present my own opinion about the value - or otherwise - of the contributions these persons made to their fields of endeavour.
  • Discuss the historical background surrounding their rise to prominence.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • handouts will be provided to convey additional sources of information, signpost course members towards more in-depth research/study and stimulate discussion.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • although handout sheets will be given each week, these cannot cover all of the tutor's input or every point raised during each class, so note-taking equipment may be useful. Many course members prefer to make their own notes on certain points.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here
  • Investigation/research into the life of one (or more) of the individuals discussed on this course. Alternatively, course members may wish to do more investigation into 19th century history generally - whether this be social, economic, cultural or political history - or a combination of the same.

Download full course information sheet

Giants of the 19th Century

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This course is not available for online enrolment.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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