Child Labor in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Fictional Representations Of Child Laborers - Essay

John Forster (essay date 1890)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Forster, John. “Hard Experiences in Boyhood (1822-4).” In The Life of Charles Dickens, pp. 19-33. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1966.

[In the following excerpt, originally published in 1890, Dickens's friend and biographer John Forster offers Dickens's own recollection of the Warren's Blacking Factory period of his boyhood and how this was incorporated into his fiction from Oliver Twist to Martin Chuzzlewit and David Copperfield.]

The incidents to be told now would probably never have been known to me, or indeed any of the occurrences of his childhood and youth, but for the accident of a question which I put to him one day in the March or...

(The entire section is 7067 words.)

W. H. Chaloner (essay date 1960)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Chaloner, W. H. “Mrs. Trollope and the Early Factory System.” Victorian Studies 4, no. 2 (December 1960): 159-66.

[In the following essay, Chaloner examines the manner in which Frances Trollope researched her novel about child labor and cautions against regarding fictional representations of social problems as historically accurate.]

Mrs. Frances Trollope, the mother of Anthony Trollope the novelist, is not generally associated with the North of England and its cotton industry, although her now rather rare novel, The Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong, the Factory Boy, which appeared in twelve shilling parts during 1839-40,1 purports...

(The entire section is 3255 words.)

Ivanka Kovačević and S. Barbara Kanner (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kovačević, Ivanka, and S. Barbara Kanner. “Blue Book into Novel: The Forgotten Industrial Fiction of Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 25 (1970-71): 152-73.

[In the following essay, Kovačević and Kanner discuss the writings of Tonna, whose fictional works on factory conditions and child labor are based on factual accounts and witness testimony recorded in parliamentary blue books and other official reports.]

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, by her persistent reading of Government reports, laboured to penetrate the underground life of thousands of women hidden away in small and dirty shops. Her exhaustive treatment of so...

(The entire section is 9048 words.)

Roger P. Wallins (essay date 1975)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wallins, Roger P. “Victorian Periodicals and the Emerging Social Conscience.” Victorian Periodicals Newsletter 8, no. 2 (June 1975): 47-59.

[In the following essay, Wallins claims that social problems such as child labor, poor housing, and overcrowded, unsanitary graveyards brought to the attention of the middle class by nineteenth-century novelists had been exposed by popular periodicals much earlier.]

For much of the twentieth century, critics of Victorian ‘social-problem’ novels have tended to view such works as exposing the working and living conditions of the lower classes. The novels, these critics imply, materialized out of the authors' personal...

(The entire section is 5874 words.)

Albert D. Hutter (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hutter, Albert D. “Reconstructive Autobiography: The Experience at Warren's Blacking.” Dickens Studies Annual 6 (1977): 1-14.

[In the following essay, Hutter discusses distortions of the accounts of Dicken's childhood labor at Warren's Blacking Factory in the author's own narrative and in various versions of his biographers and critics.]

Any autobiographical statement is a fabrication. Facts are distorted, relationships colored, not necessarily to deceive or persuade an audience, but rather because of the individual's desire to make sense out of the past as he understands it—and always incompletely understands it—in the present. I hope to clarify and...

(The entire section is 8161 words.)

Roger P. Wallins (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wallins, Roger P. “Mrs. Trollope's Artistic Dilemma in Michael Armstrong.Ariel 8, no. 1 (January 1977): 5-15.

[In the following essay, Wallins examines Trollope's attempt to balance the artistic integrity of her novel with her concern for the plight of children working in factories.]

The nineteenth-century social novel generally establishes a limited area in which to identify and perhaps offer solutions to a particular problem, often some aspects of the living and working conditions of factory workers, miners or, less frequently, agricultural laborers. It seems to have begun with Oliver Twist,1 Charles Dickens' first attempt to...

(The entire section is 3390 words.)

Patrick Waddington (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Waddington, Patrick. “Russian Variations on an English Theme: The Crying Children of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Studies in Browning and His Circle 21 (November 1997): 95-115.

[In the following essay, Waddington discusses Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem on child labor, “The Cry of the Children,” and its considerable influence in Russia where it inspired imitations by several Russian literary figures.]

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Russian fame preceded that of her husband, but afterwards declined. In an article of 1860 the eminent critic A. V. Druzhinin casually referred to her as a ‘celebrated name’ in English letters.1 As late...

(The entire section is 10795 words.)