The era didn’t just bring about misery and poverty. On the contrary, Emma Griffin shows how it raised incomes, improved literacy, and offered exciting opportunities for political action.
Author: Emma Griffin
Publisher: Yale University Press
“Emma Griffin gives a new and powerful voice to the men and women whose blood and sweat greased the wheels of the Industrial Revolution” (Tim Hitchcock, author of Down and Out in Eighteenth-Century London). This “provocative study” looks at hundreds of autobiographies penned between 1760 and 1900 to offer an intimate firsthand account of how the Industrial Revolution was experienced by the working class (The New Yorker). The era didn’t just bring about misery and poverty. On the contrary, Emma Griffin shows how it raised incomes, improved literacy, and offered exciting opportunities for political action. For many, this was a period of new, and much valued, sexual and cultural freedom. This rich personal account focuses on the social impact of the Industrial Revolution, rather than its economic and political histories. In the tradition of bestselling books by Liza Picard, Judith Flanders, and Jerry White, Griffin gets under the skin of the period and creates a cast of colorful characters, including factory workers, miners, shoemakers, carpenters, servants, and farm laborers. “Through the ‘messy tales’ of more than 350 working-class lives, Emma Griffin arrives at an upbeat interpretation of the Industrial Revolution most of us would hardly recognize. It is quite enthralling.” —The Oldie magazine “A triumph, achieved in fewer than 250 gracefully written pages. They persuasively purvey Griffin’s historical conviction. She is intimate with her audience, wooing it and teasing it along the way.” —The Times Literary Supplement “An admirably intimate and expansive revisionist history.” —Publishers Weekly