The word 'workhouse' has a grim resonance even today, conjuring up a vision of the darker side of Victorian Britain. Almost every town had at least one workshouse, and most people dreaded ending up there. Here we examine how workhouses came into being, what life was like for men, women and children on the wrong side of the poverty line, and how social attitudes evolved through the momentous events of Victorian Britain into the 20th century. Illustrated from contemporary and modern sources, this fact-filled guide presents an intriguing picture of a world of steam engines, self-help, service and salvation - where workhouse life, and workhouse reform, influenced attitudes and services we now take for granted.
Secord gives a dazzlingly detailed account of this scientific trench warfare and its social consequences. One ends up with a marvellous feeling for the major taxonomic enterprises in Darwin's younger day: mapping, ordering, conquering 'taming the chaos" of the strata. All of these of course had social and imperial ramifications; and Secord mentions geology's moral appeal (in supporting a divinely-stratified Creation) to a beleaguered elite intent on subduing the lower orders.
Originally published in 1986.
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The Companion to the Victorian Novel provides contextual and critical information about the entire range of British fiction published between 1837 and 1901.