From the publisher, Robert Hale:
Once upon a time, Britain forged a mighty industrial empire - built with the blood, sweat and tears of society's most vulnerable members. Children History Forgot explores young people's working lives during the late Georgian and Victorian eras, when boys and girls created almost every item in our ancestors' homes: bricks, glass, cutlery, candles, lace, cotton and more. All over Britain, from the coal mines of Wales to the flax mills of Ireland, children toiled in factories and workshops, underground and on the land. A chosen few like Samuel Slater began new lives in America but thousands of others have been forgotten by history: killed by unguarded machinery or poisoned by metal or pottery dust. Many were conscript workers: pauper apprentices trapped by their poverty. Sue Wilkes tells the story of the long, heartbreaking fight for reform. The story of men like Lord Shaftesbury, Richard Oastler and the tireless factory inspectors who battled, not only to improve youngsters' working conditions and opportunities for education, but also to change society's attitudes towards childhood. Children History Forgot takes a fresh look at the true cost of Britain's industrial success story.
|Holywell Mill, North Wales|
Sue is a regular writer for Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine. Here is what she says about poor children in Jane Austen's period.
Jane Austen enjoyed a privileged childhood compared with that of many poor children. She was taught to read and write, and went to school with her sister Cassandra. The Austen family were not entirely free from the pressures of having to earn a living, as Jane's father George Austen had only a limited income. Jane's aunt Philadelphia was apprenticed to a milliner in her teenage years, and Jane's brothers entered the Navy and clergy (except for Edward, who was adopted by the wealthy Knight family).
But while Jane learned 'the usual female accomplishments' at home and school, all over Britain, the children of the poor began work at an early age. They helped their parents in workshops or on the land. Pauper children were apprenticed by parish overseers into many different trades, and domestic service. When the first cotton factories were built, like this mill at Holywell in North Wales, pauper children were apprenticed miles from home to the mill owners. Thirteen hour shifts were not uncommon. The work these 'apprentices' learned was easy to learn, and did not equip them to earn their own living when they grew up.
Thank you Sue, I am so looking forward to reading this book which I'm sure will be as fabulous as the others!