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The Victorian Celebration of Death

Author : James Stevens Curl

Publisher : Newton Abbot: David & Charles [Publishers] Ltd., 1972
ISBN:0-7153-5446-9 (hbk)

This pioneering study of the history of the Victorians’ solution to the problems of how best to dispose of huge numbers of dead bodies in an increasingly urbanised world covered the early cemeteries, burial-reform, the re-introduction of cremation, and much else in what was, in fact, a revolution in urban hygiene requiring new architectural and landscape solutions to a hugely controversial matter. The book was influential, and sparked a whole new study-area.


'The pleasures of the cemetery ... here a thrilling note is struck. out comes pouring from the great black cornucopia of Victorian agony the horrific paraphernalia of pompes funèbres, presented in The Victorian Celebration of Death as well ordered as any sumptuous funeral. This well-researched book...describes some associated delights ... Mr Curl’s taste for the eerie flows beneath a level literary style. His literary personality is modest and unobtrusive, as befits his subject.'

Alfred Brew in the Times Educational Supplement (31 March 1972)

'... most entertaining and enterprising - a book finely produced, moreover, with a mass of apt and enlightening illustrations...In these days of chronic over-production one cannot often say that a book fills a genuine gap, but in this case it is true. Curl ... has much to say of interest, and has rescued so much absorbing information from oblivion... that I can only recommend you to acquire his book; it is entirely delightful.'

Martin Fagg in The Church Times (30 March 1972)

'Cemeteries have a history that is worth writing ... Curl has been the first to put it into a readable, well-informed, and moderately priced book.'

Howard Colvin in The Oxford Mail (16 March 1972)
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