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Victorian Children: Timelines


There are many resources on Victorian Britain specifically written for children. Most libraries have a good selection of books.

Larger reference libraries have copies of historical documents for that period. Especially useful is ‘English Historical Documents’ Volume 12 (1&2) ed. D Douglas, published by Eyre & Spottiswoode. This has extracts from Reports of Commissioners on the employment of children in factories (1833) and mines (1842), as well as later evidence (1880-90s) about health, housing, factories and poverty. It also contains information about education, some letters of Queen Victoria and an article from The Times newspaper about the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1887.

Some books written at or near the time give insight into the lives of working children or children at school, e.g.
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, 1863, now published in Puffin Books 1984.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett,1905, now published by Frederick Warne & Co.
Oliver Twist, Hard Times by Charles Dickens, 1837, 1854, now published by Penguin.
Larkrise to Candleford by Flora Thompson. Oxford University Press 1983.

Although there were far fewer books written for children in Victorian times, children enjoyed a variety of books, some of which have stood the test of time and can still be obtained. Here are a few of them:
Edward Lear’s nonsense verse: A Book of Nonsense (1846), Nonsense Songs (1871) and Laughable Lyrics (1877)
Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871)
Captain Marryat: The Children of the New Forest (1847)
R.L. Stevenson: Treasure Island (1883) and A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885).

Also useful is a pack produced by Barnardo’s: ‘Victorian Britain’ by Tina Davidson. It has photographs, information and activities on many aspects of Victorian Britain as well as Thomas Barnardo. Barnardo’s also have a website - see Internet Sites. There are many biographies of both Shaftesbury and Barnardo available from libraries.

Many local museums run workshops on Victorian schools or working life as well as larger museums - see list below:
The North of England Country Museum at Beamish
Ironbridge Gorge Museum
The Black Country Living Museum
Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood
Ragged Schools Museum

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