A vivid and graphic survey of the casualties of childhood during the Victorian Era through detailed and never-before-seen firsthand accounts.
Take a fascinating journey into the real lives of Victorian children—how they lived, worked, played, and far too often, died before reaching adulthood. These true accounts, many of which had been hidden for more than a century, reveal the hardship and cruel conditions endured by young people living through the tumult of the Industrial Revolution. Here are the lives of a traveling fair child, an apprentice at sea, and a young trapper, as well as the children of prostitutes, servant girls, debutantes, and married women, all unified in the tragedy of early death.
Drawing on actual cases of infanticide and baby farming, historian Sarah Seaton uncovers the dismal realities of the Victorian Era’s unwed mothers, whose shame at being pregnant drove them to carry out horrendous crimes. With the introduction of the New Poor Law in 1834, the future for some poor children changed—but not for the better. Yet it was the tragic loss of these many young lives that lead to essential reforms, and eventually to today’s more enlightened views on childhood.