Workhouse: The People, the Places, the Life Behind Doors

Workhouse: The People, the Places, the Life Behind Doors

by Simon Fowler


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We are all familiar with the moment when Oliver Twist dares to ask for more and his subsequent abuse at the hands of the workhouse system. Charlie Chaplin was another workhouse inmate and Florence Nightingale an outspoken critic of the system. These were institutions, we popularly believe, where families were torn asunder and the sick and needy subjected to the grimmest of regimes. What kind of society saw a solution in this uneasy mix of compassion and deterrence? And why did the workhouse strike terror into people's hearts so long into this century? This popular history conducts a full tour of the workhouse from 1696 to 1948. It draws upon the Archives' unique and personal accounts of inmates and staff. For those interested in researching further - including their own pauper ancestors - the book contains a guide to the sources.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781905615032
Publisher: National Archives (PRO), The
Publication date: 04/01/2007
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.44(w) x 9.42(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Simon Fowler is editor of the genealogy magazine Ancestors and writes widely on family and social history topics. Previous books include the successful Family Skeletons with Ruth Paley, as well as The Joys of Family History and several of the National Archives’ prestigious Pocket Guide history series. His articles have been published widely in popular history magazines including BBC History and History Today.

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Workhouse: The People, the Places, the Life Behind Doors 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Davidgnp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this simply because a passing reference to workhouses in a TV documentary pricked an interest which I was keen to follow. The book does not disappoint - its descriptions of conditions in many workhouses are more powerful for being presented in an unfussy and unsentimental way, with judicious use of quotations from primary sources. I imagine a serious researcher would have been happier with footnotes and detailed references, but these were unnecessary for my purposes. I would have liked a more extensive treatment of the twentieth century workhouse experience, but I'm sure I'll find this by following some of the useful suggestions for further reading.Reviewer David Williams writes a regular blog as Writer in the North.