Child Labor in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Sheila Ferguson (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ferguson, Sheila. “Children at Work.” In Growing Up in Victorian Britain, pp. 54-61. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1977.

[In the following excerpt, Ferguson discusses the various trades in which children were employed in nineteenth-century England and the abuses associated with each particular form of child labor.]


In the 1830s thousands of children worked in factories, workshops and mines in the most appalling conditions, often for a mere pittance in wages. Their employers, the manufacturers who had successfully carried through a revolution in industry, resisted the demand for factory reform on the grounds that...

(The entire section is 2019 words.)

Pamela Horn (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Horn, Pamela. “Introduction: 1780-1850s.” In Children's Work and Welfare, 1780-1890, pp. 1-11. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

[In the following excerpt, Horn provides an overview of child labor in the first half of the nineteenth century in England.]


At the end of the eighteenth century two opposing philosophies underpinned contemporary attitudes towards childhood. The first, and most widely held, stemmed from a belief in the innate sinfulness of all humanity and the consequent need to curb and control youthful high spirits. Habits of industry must be...

(The entire section is 4434 words.)