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Death, Grief and Poverty in Britain, 1870–1914


  • Page extent: 306 pages
  • Size: 229 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.45 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521168625)

With high mortality rates, it has been assumed that the poor in Victorian and Edwardian Britain did not mourn their dead. Contesting this approach, Julie-Marie Strange studies the expression of grief among the working class, demonstrating that poverty increased - rather than deadened - it. She illustrates the mourning practices of the working classes through chapters addressing care of the corpse, the funeral, the cemetery, commemoration, and high infant mortality rates. The book draws on a broad range of sources to analyse the feelings and behaviours of the labouring poor, using not only personal testimony but also fiction, journalism, and official reports. It concludes that poor people did not only use spoken or written words to express their grief, but also complex symbols, actions and, significantly, silence. This book will be an invaluable contribution to an important and neglected area of social and cultural history.

• Original contribution to the growing field of history of death, emotion and memory • Comprehensive book covers the experience of the working class attitude to death in Victorian and Edwardian Britain • Covers a wide range of customs and practices surrounding death and funerals - from the care of the corpse to rituals of memory


Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; 1. Introduction: revisiting the Victorian and Edwardian celebration of death; 2. Life, sickness and death; 3. Caring for the corpse; 4. The funeral; 5. Only a pauper whom nobody owns: reassessing the pauper burial; 6. Remembering the dead: the cemetery as a landscape for grief; 7. Loss, memory and the management of feeling; 8. Grieving for dead children; 9. Epilogue: death, grief and the Great War; Bibliography; Index.


Review of the hardback: '… this book has a lot to say in delineating working-class attitudes and behaviour and makes a sizeable contribution to our understanding of the subject.' Contemporary Review

Review of the hardback: 'It is impossible to read this book without being moved and caught up in the narrative of the pitiful, tragic, and often deplorable examples, which Strange uses to illustrate her arguments. the book is a highly effective academic treatise, base on a doctoral thesis, and with well constructed and clear points of principle and theory carefully expounded in the introduction.' Northern History

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