Poverty Amidst Prosperity

The Urban Poor in England, 1834-1914

By Carl Chinn

Format: Paperback

Focusing on the urban poor, this book explains their way of life. Using working-class autobiographies and other evidence from working-class people themselves, it shows how people reacted to poverty, and brings to the fore their strategies for coping with their situation. It provides an introduction to those seeking to understand poverty.

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Carnegie Publishing

Carnegie is the home of great history books. They believe that good historical writing ? packed with insight, explanation, interest and illustrations ? has a good potential market. They like to make their books accessible to a wide readership, with modest retail prices and attractive design. They are currently expanding their publishing in the areas of general history, city and town histories, counties and regions and industrial heritage.

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The upper and middle classes of Victorian England were marked out by their confidence: they boasted that the sun never set on their Empire; they believed they were destined to lead other nations; and they bragged that their civilisation was pre-eminent. Their self-belief was assured because they lived in a country that had become rich through industrialisation. But amidst great prosperity there was also much poverty. Deprivation and distress were widespread and obvious. In towns and cities, grand public and civic buildings were surrounded by poor dwellings later known as 'slums'. The poor crowded into these insanitary districts; they rented badly built dwellings with inadequate facilities; they did the dirtiest, hardest and most dangerous jobs; they ate the worst food; they suffered ill health and early deaths. Poverty blighted their lives. Many observers asserted that many of the poor were thriftless and feckless. They stated that the muckiness of the poor districts was caused by dirty people who did not wish to raise themselves out of the mire.


Gradually, however, social investigators began to question these scathing generalisations, arguing that poverty was usually the result of economic conditions over which individuals and families had no control. "Poverty Amidst Prosperity" focuses on the urban poor themselves, and explains their way of life from within. Using working-class autobiographies and other evidence from working-class people themselves, Carl Chinn shows how people reacted to poverty, and brings to the fore their strategies for coping with their situation. He asserts that the urban poor were not passive victims of their circumstances, but that they fought against poverty with the support of neighbours and kin, and that they formed thriving villages in a dreadful urban environment. This book provides the ideal introduction to those seeking to understand poverty from the grassroots. Its wide range of evidence, clear analysis and strong argument stress the importance of communities, and give a voice to those whom traditional history has marginalised.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Carnegie Publishing
Publication Date 10 May 2007
ISBN 9781859361269
Number of Pages 176

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