Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Fatherhood and the British Working Class, 1865–1914

  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107446861


Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

Please email to enquire about an inspection copy of this book

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • A pioneering study of Victorian and Edwardian fatherhood, investigating what being, and having, a father meant to working-class people. Based on working-class autobiography, the book challenges dominant assumptions about absent or 'feckless' fathers, and reintegrates the paternal figure within the emotional life of families. Locating autobiography within broader social and cultural commentary, Julie-Marie Strange considers material culture, everyday practice, obligation, duty and comedy as sites for the development and expression of complex emotional lives. Emphasising the importance of separating men as husbands from men as fathers, Strange explores how emotional ties were formed between fathers and their children, the models of fatherhood available to working-class men, and the ways in which fathers interacted with children inside and outside the home. She explodes the myth that working-class interiorities are inaccessible or unrecoverable, and locates life stories in the context of other sources, including social surveys, visual culture and popular fiction.

    • The first history book to locate the father in the Victorian and Edwardian working-class family
    • Advances new reading of working-class autobiographers, establishing a new methodology for reading their lives
    • Locates contemporary debates about involved/absent fathers in a historical context, offering alternative models for locating fathers within family life and children's development
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book is a major contribution to family history and British social history, which will be valued not only for its substantive findings, but for setting new standards in the interpretation of working-class autobiographies. The experience of fatherhood is brought vividly to life, in writing which is lucid and stylish.' John Tosh, University of Roehampton

    'In this brilliant study Strange restores humanity to Victorian and Edwardian working-class fathers. She rightly argues that the social history of the family cannot adequately be told if fathers and fatherhood remain an absent presence. Through a sensitive, multi-layered reading of autobiographical accounts, Strange convincingly demonstrates that intimate histories of private life can be simultaneously poetic and political. A stunning achievement.' Jon Lawrence, University of Cambridge

    'Julie-Marie Strange provides a long-overdue 'counter narrative' (as she calls it) to the standard story of the working-class father as 'failed' provider for wife and children. Focusing on the child's response to the intimacies of home life, this innovative study uncovers a wealth of new material which offers a much warmer, richer, and more personal understanding of the way fathers invested meaning - even laughter and comedy - in their everyday interactions with their families.' Valerie Sanders, University of Hull

    'Julie-Marie Strange gives us a dynamic, contextual portrait of working-class fathers, through their own eyes and those of their children, which refuses all easy clichés about their parenting. Instead, Strange focuses on what gave fatherhood meaning - both having, and being, a father, across the early twentieth century. She is deeply attentive to, and respectful of, the mundane acts of care, material provision and ritual which make up the affective world of fatherhood. Never sentimental, Strange nonetheless re-enchants working-class fatherhood. [This book] provides a brilliant example of how both the history of emotions and of material culture might inform social history, and powerfully change the existing historical narrative.' Lucy Delap, King's College London

    'Dr Julie-Marie Strange … scoured hundreds of contemporary souces - ranging from memoirs to music hall comedy lyrics - to test the traditional caricature of fathers in the 19th and early 20th century as strict, lacking affection and often brutal.' John Bingham, The Daily Telegraph

    'The purpose of this delightful book is to both reassess and expand understanding of plebeian masculinity. The author reveals just how fathers and their children could and did create, experience, and sometimes even enjoy their own forms, sites, and languages of affective relationships. The careful exegesis of working-class autobiographies presented here allows readers to both broaden and deepen their understanding and appreciation not only of working-class fathers, in particular, but also of the British working-class family more generally. A most welcome contribution to the literature.' Choice

    'This is a very impressive work of social history, characterized by a tremendous emotional intelligence that allows Strange to imbue the actors she discusses with real humanity in a few deft strokes.' Ben Griffin, The Journal of Modern History

    'Excellent. … Strange's nuanced analysis of the emotional intracies of fathering ensures that fathers will certainly be actors in future feminist histories of families.' Ellen Ross, 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: November 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107446861
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 121 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: O father, where art thou?
    1. Love and toil: fatherhood, providing and attachment
    2. Love and want: unemployment, failure and the fragile father
    3. Man and home: the interpersonal dynamics of fathers at home
    4. Front stage values, back stage lives: family togetherness, respectability and 'real' fathers
    5. Funny talk: laughter, family and fathering
    6. The fond father: protection, authority, reconciliation
    Conclusion: discovering fatherhood

  • Author

    Julie-Marie Strange, University of Manchester
    Julie-Marie Strange is Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester. She is author of Death, Grief and Poverty, 1870–1914 (Cambridge, 2005). Strange has appeared on Radio 4's Woman's Hour on the subject of fathers, and Thinking Allowed on the working-class Christmas. She also appeared in BBC4's 'A Century of Fatherhood' (Testimony Films).

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

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

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.