Childhood and Death in Victorian England (Paperback)
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In this fascinating book, the reader is taken on a journey of real life accounts of Victorian children, how they lived, worked, played and ultimately died. Many of these stories have remained hidden for over 100 years. They are now unearthed to reveal the hardship and cruel conditions experienced by many youngsters, such as a travelling fair child, an apprentice at sea and a trapper. The lives of the children of prostitutes, servant girls, debutantes and married women all intermingle, unified by one common factor – death. Drawing on actual instances of Infanticide and baby farming the reader is taken into a world of unmarried mothers, whose shame at being pregnant drove them to carry out horrendous crimes yet walk free from court, without consequence. For others, they were not so lucky. The Victorian children in this publication lived in the rapidly changing world of the Industrial Revolution. With the introduction of the New Poor Law in 1834 the future for some pauper children changed – but not for the better. Studies have also unearthed a religious sect known as the ‘Peculiar People’ and gives an insight into their beliefs. This book is not recommended for those easily offended as it does contain graphic descriptions of some child murders, although not intended to glorify the tragedies, they were necessary to inform the reader of the horrific extent that some killers went to. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the social history of the Victorian period.
This fascinating, if grim, book researches the ways that children died [and thus by implication lived] in the period 1800 -1901. Its primary source is the reporting of publicly held inquests and court proceedings in newspapers.North West Labour History Society
Deaths from accidents in the home and at work can be attributed to a lack of any regard for the safety of children, or of the working poor in general. Unregulated child labour, insanitary and unsafe housing and a lack of adult supervision left children vulnerable. Legislation and compulsory education reduced mortality; a reminder of the necessity of legal protections for working people and their families.
Further reasons for childhood deaths relate to morally motivated legislation and the economic value of children: The ‘Bastardy’ clause of the 1834 Poor Law act placed all responsibility for illegitimate children with the mother. This coupled with the stigma, likely loss of job and home, meant that concealment and infanticide were rational and expedient remedies. Despite many philanthropic movements, it also led to a lucrative business in farming and adoption though which many children died of neglect and starvation.
Finally, there murders of children, usually by close family members. These are different in that although much has changed in the lives of children since Victorian times, these deaths resonate with current times, and seem ageless.
This is an excellent history of childhood deaths, and there is still plenty to be learnt, and this is only the beginning of that education. This book has been well researched, well written and an engrossing read, and you will learn something on every page.Reviewed by Paul Digget
This is a well-researched book that would be of interest to people researching the social history of the Victorian period, particularly as it pertains to the treatment of children, to writers looking for background on the period, but it is not a light read or a standard history book of the era. It goes to show that truth can, and it often is, more terrifying than fiction.Olga Nunez Miret
Read the full review here.
As featured in 'books in brief'Family Tree, November 2017
As featured on Lil's Vintage World Youtube Blog!Lil's Vintage World
The scandalous way in which poorer people's lives impacted on their children and their brief, unhappy lives is brought into stark reality in this amazing social history by Sarah Seaton.Books Monthly
An interesting and easy read.WDYTYA? Magazine, September 2017 – reviewed by Celia Heritage
Beyond its morbidlurid cover, Seaton unloads information about fatal child labor industrial injuries (involving children as young as 4, yet an average of 9-10 year-olds), accidents, death while in poverty, murder homicides (sometimes involving kidnapping), and death in infancy between 1800 and 1901.GoodReads, Kristine Fisher
Read the complete review here.
In this fascinating if gruesome book, author Sarah Seaton takes the reader on a journey of real life accounts of Victorian children, how they lived, worked, played and how ultimately they died.Bradway Bugle, Autumn 2017
Many of these stories have remained hidden for over 100 years. They are now unearthed to reveal the hardship and cruel conditions experienced by many youngsters, such as a travelling fair child, an apprentice at sea and a trapper. The lives of the children of prostitutes, servant girls, debutantes and married women all intermingle, unified by one common factor – death. The Victorian children in this publication lived in the rapidly changing world of the Industrial Revolution. With the introduction of the New Poor Law in
1834 the future for some pauper children changed – but not always for the better.
This book is not for those easily offended as it does contain graphic descriptions, but it will appeal to anyone with an interest in the social history of the Victorian period.
We all know that some of the greatest inventions came from the Victorian age, the successors of which are still with us today. But this book is not entirely about those. It’s more about some of the weird and wonderful inventions, ideas and projects – some successful, others less so – that have largely been forgotten. Where well-known inventions or design concepts are included, it is from a perspective not previously appreciated, with details of the ingenious technology and thinking that led to their introduction and success. Here you can read how Victorian innovators were responsible for:…By John Wade
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