Skip to content

Your Cart


You have 0 items in your cart.

Register Sign in Wishlist

Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution

$40.99 (C)

Award Winner

Part of Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series

  • Date Published: October 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521248969

$ 40.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This is a unique account of working-class childhood during the British industrial revolution. Using more than 600 autobiographies written by working men of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Jane Humphries illuminates working-class childhood in contexts untouched by conventional sources and facilitates estimates of age at starting work, social mobility, the extent of apprenticeship, and the duration of schooling. The classic era of industrialization, 1790-1850, apparently saw an upsurge in child labour. While the memoirs implicate mechanization and the division of labour in this increase, they also show that fatherlessness and large sibsets, common in these turbulent, high-mortality, and high-fertility times, often cast children as partners and supports for mothers struggling to hold families together. The book offers unprecedented insights into child labour, family life, careers, and schooling. Its images of suffering, stoicism, and occasional childish pleasures put the humanity back into economic history and the trauma back into the industrial revolution.

    • Unique account of childhood during the industrial revolution that draws on working people's own accounts of their lives
    • Sheds new light on the individual experience of industrialisation and its impact on working-class family life
    • Integrates quantitative analysis with social, family and demographic history
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2011 Gyorgi Ranki Biennial Prize in European Economic History, Economic History Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Recommended." -Choice

    "This is a large and important book … It deserves to become not only a classic study of childhood, but also of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. As Humphries herself notes, it has been a long time coming, but for the reader it has been well worth the wait." -History Today

    "Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution is richly innovative in its marrying of economic data with life stories. The voices of the children – stoical, matter of fact, and moving in their ordinariness – jump off the page. There is no other historical study of British labour during the industrial revolution that so vividly brings to life the world of the working-class child." -History Workshop Journal

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521248969
    • length: 454 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 37 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Sources, models, context
    3. Families
    4. Household economy
    5. Family relationships
    6. Wider kin
    7. Starting work
    8. Jobs
    9. Apprenticeship
    10. Schooling
    11. Conclusion

  • Author

    Jane Humphries, University of Oxford
    Jane Humphries is Professor of Economic History and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University.


    • Winner of the 2011 Gyorgi Ranki Biennial Prize in European Economic History, Economic History Association

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.