Cover image for The Victorian town child
The Victorian town child
Horn, Pamela.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
248 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ792.G7 H68 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



As nineteenth-century Britain became increasingly urbanized and industrialized, the number of children living in towns grew rapidly. At the same time, Horn considers the increasing divisions within urban society, not only between market towns and major manufacturing and trading centers, but within individual towns, as rich and poor became more segregated.

During the Victorian period, public attitudes toward children and childhood shifted dramatically, often to the detriment of those at the lower end of the social scale--including paupers and juvenile delinquents. Drawing on original research, including anecdotes, first-hand accounts, and a wealth of photographs, The Victorian Town Child describes in detail the changing lives of all classes of Victorian town children, from those of prosperous business and professional families to working-class families, where unemployment and overcrowding were particular problems. Horn also examines the issues of juvenile labor and exploitation, how factory work and education were combined, how crime and punishment were dealt with among children, and the changes in health and infant death rates over the period.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Horn, a prolific writer on Victorian social history, draws on both printed and manuscript sources to provide the general reader and the scholar with a well-written, well-illustrated, and convenient survey of Victorian urban childhood. There are chapters on Victorian towns, middle-class children, working-class home life, schooling, work, health, leisure, and "rescue and reform," followed by numerous appendixes, mostly statistical. This anecdotal and descriptive book does not advance new interpretations but affirms those already established. Horn contrasts the middle-class and the working-class child with due sensitivity to the many socioeconomic variations obscured by this dichotomy, and she emphasizes the changes in conditions and attitudes that developed in the latter part of the 19th century. She also draws attention to the mixed views that Victorian adults entertained toward children, especially the poorest boys and girls: innocents to be protected by society and troublemakers from whom society needed to be protected. All levels. D. M. Fahey; Miami University