What was special about 1845 and why does it deserve particular scrutiny? In his much-anticipated new book, one of the leading authorities on the Victorian age argues that this was the critical year in a decade which witnessed revolution on continental Europe, the threat of mass insurrection at home and radical developments in railway transport, communications, religion, literature and the arts. The effects of the new poor law now became visible in the workhouses; a potato blight started in Ireland, heralding the Great Famine; and the Church of England was rocked to its foundations by John Henry Newman’s conversion to Roman Catholicism. What Victorian England became was moulded, says Michael Wheeler, in the crucible of 1845. Exploring pivotal correspondence, together with pamphlets, articles and cartoons, the author tells the riveting story of a seismic epoch through the lives, loves and letters of leading contemporaneous figures.