Life in the Victorian and Edwardian Workhouse

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 192 pages
Author: M. Higgs
Year: 2009
ISBN: 9780752442143
Other: b&w photos, sketches, bibliog, index
Publisher: The History Press

Life in a workhouse during the Victorian and Edwardian eras has been popularly characterised as a brutal existence. Charles Dickens famously portrayed workhouse inmates as being dirty, neglected, overworked and at the mercy of exploitative masters.

While there were undoubtedly establishments that conformed to this stereotype, there is also evidence of a more enlightened approach that has not yet come to public attention.

This book establishes a true picture of what life was like in a workhouse, of why inmates entered them and of what they had to endure in their day-to-day routine. A comprehensive overview of the workhouse system gives a real and compelling insight into the social and moral reasons behind their growth in the Victorian era, while the kind of distinctions that were drawn between inmates are looked into, which, along with the social stigma of having been a workhouse inmate, tell us much about class attitudes of the time. The book also looks at the living conditions and duties of the staff too who, in many ways, were prisoners of the workhouse.

Michelle Higgs combines thorough research with a fresh outlook on a crucial period in British history, and in doing so paints a vivid portrait of an era and its social standard that continues to fascinate, and tells us much about the society we live in today.

1. The New Poor Law
2. The Workhouse System
3. The Able-Bodied Man
4. The Able-Bodied Women
5. The Children
6. The Elderly
7. The Inform
8. The Lunatics
9. The Vagrants
10. The Master and Mason
11. The Schoolteachers
12. The Medical Officer
13. The Nursing Staff
14. The Porter
15. The Chaplain
16. The Guardians
17. The Clerk
18. The Relieving Officer

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Life in the Victorian and Edwardian Workhouse


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