This terrific study of attitudes is clearly a labour of love and well written. Bought for grad school in 1981, I found and find this a superb account of the ethos underlying this turbulent age, the crucible of our own world as well as 'the shaping spirit' that is our Romantic then Late Romantic sensibility issuing from a complex and ambiguous time. A profound study of so many fine works, with a deft analysis of the economic and cultural forces shaping an age one easily patronized, in morals seemingly unlike our more liberal age, moralistic hence the scorn about their prudishness, the covers for chair legs etc. (not true, incidentally). I used to scorn the age, thankfully Houghton's book corrected my sillier notions and made "the enormous condescension of posterity" impossible to sustain in the wake of knowing more: civic architecture especially in the northern towns such as Leeds and Manchester, is a marvel; their philanthropic magnates shame our own tightwads; their thinkers agonise over seeming modern perplexities such as Tennyson's "Nature red in tooth and claw" and Arnold's famous Doubt in 'Dover Beach'... and 'we' nearly destroyed the veritable cathedral that is St Pancras.Midlands Hotel and to our shame the neo-Classical Euston was demolished. An easy era to appraise wrongly, to which this is a well-written, exhaustively researched corrective. Essential reading.