King, Peter ed.
Narratives of the poor in Eighteenth-Century Britain: Volume 4 Institutional responses: the refuge for the destitute.
London, UK: Pickering and Chatto.
The eighteenth century was a time of great change for the poor of Britain, yet their experience and the views of those who dealt with them have often been difficult to access. This five-volume reset collection of previously unpublished and rarely available primary source material significantly broadens our understanding of ‘poor reality’ by bringing together voices from all levels of society and from all over Britain; from those applying for assistance, through local officials and socially high-profile benefactors, lower class ballad-writers and established authors, to treatise writers on poverty and welfare. The language of pauper supplicants was often colourful and full of demands, while philanthropists and authors frequently wrote from a very different perspective. The edition covers the period from the early eighteenth century through to the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 and includes new transcriptions of hand-written first-hand representations of poverty to poor law officials, the London Foundling Hospital and the London Refuge for the Destitute, plus selections from literary tracts, ballads, court literature and other prose works. Importantly, much of the writing on the poor is written by the poor.
This collection will be invaluable for historians and literature scholars working on the economic and social history of early industrial Britain, pushing forward scholarship in the area with the new, wholly-transcribed documentary evidence it contains. Sources have also been selected for their use as accessible teaching materials.
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