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The Victorian Working Man & Woman

What was life like for the Victorian working class? This question fascinated Victorian readers -- who were often far removed from the struggles and poverty experienced by that class. Hence, articles on Victorian workers and working conditions were popular in general interest and family magazines.

Another topic of growing concern to the Victorian audience was the burning question: Should women work? If so, what types of work were "appropriate"? This question clearly didn't apply to the "working class" woman, for whom no degree of drudgery would be considered inappropriate. Rather, it was a question increasingly faced by "genteel" women and "ladies" -- who through a variety of social circumstances were becoming increasingly unable to rely upon marriage and/or the financial support of male family members. The controversial question "should women work" (and if so, at what?) centered around the types of activities an otherwise "genteel" lady might apply herself to in order to stave off starvation. In later years, the question began to include the notion that a woman might want to work simply to have something to do or for personal fulfillment, and not simply because circumstances "forced" her to do so.

The Victorian Working Man, Woman... and Child...
A look at trades, lifestyles, and working conditions of Victorian workers in a wide variety of occupations, inside and outside London - and often in their own words!
  • Field & Farm Work
  • Mining
  • Fishing
  • Cottage Industries & Handwork
  • Street Vendors, Artists & Performers
  • More to come...

    Work and the Victorian Woman: An Overview
  • Should She or Shouldn't She?

    Career Opportunities for Victorian Women
  • General Tips - Roundups of Suitable Jobs for Women
  • Clerical Work
  • Dressmaking & Millinery
  • Handicrafts & Handwork
  • Nursing & Medical Work
  • Teaching & Education
  • Literary & Artistic Pursuits
  • Gardening, Farming, Poultry-rearing & Agricultural Work
  • Domestic Work
  • Other

    Victorian Working Conditions
  • Working Girls: Life Outside The Factory
  • Domestic Service
  • Dressmaking & Millinery
  • Food Service
  • Mill & Factory
  • Other

    For more details on domestic service, see Our Friends, the Servants
  • Copyright © 2017 by
    Moira Allen.
    All rights reserved.

    Magazine Abbreviations:
    CFM = Cassell's Family Magazine GOP = Girl's Own Paper ILA = Illustrated London Almanack S = The Strand
    AM = Atlantic Monthly C = Century Magazine D = Demorest's Monthly Magazine G = Godey's Lady's Book H = Harper's Monthly
    Find out more about the magazines used on this site!
    PDF files on this site are best viewed with Adobe Reader 9.0 or later. Download Acrobat Reader free.