The Victorian Legacy : A conversation between Simon Heffer, Ian Hislop and AN Wilson

Ian Hislop, Simon Heffer and AN Wilson discuss the legacy of Thomas and Jane Caryle at Carlyle's House

Listen in as Simon Heffer, Ian Hislop and AN Wilson discuss the legacy of Thomas and Jane Carlyle in this special piece of audio, recorded in front of an invited audience at Carlyle's House, Chelsea. We intended for the discussion to recreate the atmosphere of the famous salons hosted by the Carlyles which, in their day, attracted the most influential thinkers of the Victorian period including Dickens, Tennyson and Mrs Gaskell.

Recreating the Victorian salons

During the Victorian period Carlyle’s House was a magnet for discussion and the analysis of history, literature and society. Thomas and Jane Carlyle were much admired for their opinions in their day, but both their profile and influence is not as strongly felt in the 21st century.

Our contributors

Simon Heffer, Ian Hislop and AN Wilson all share a personal and professional interest in Thomas Carlyle. Having visited Carlyle’s House on numerous occasions, each had expressed an interest in recreating Carlyle's famous salons that once gathered esteemed audiences in the house.

On the evening of Wednesday 22 February this ambition was realised when Carlyle's House hosted a salon in the spirit of Thomas and Jane Carlyle. Simon Heffer, Ian Hislop and AN Wilson were introduced by Carlyle’s House volunteer Catherine Utley and discussed Carlyle's influence on Victorian and contemporary society for almost an hour. 

" This house is absolutely central to the intellectual history of Great Britain in the 19th century. If it had been dismantled we would have lost something really fundamental about the Victorians. "
- AN Wilson, novelist and historian

" What’s good about coming [here] is that you can test out Carlyle’s own theory. When he was writing about someone he would surround himself with the objects, pictures and artefacts connected with that person. So here you can immerse yourself in Carlyle’s world and see if it works."
- Ian Hislop, broadcaster, editor and writer