Charles Dickens Born 1812 – most popular novelist of his time Dickens was very passionate about the poor Novels reflect the condition of England Christmas Carol was published in 1843. It sold out in six days. Dickens' Difficult Life Charity was needed during the severe economic depression of the 1840s. Dickens suffered difficulties and poverty during his childhood Father arrested at 12, sent to prison All but Charles moved into the prison; he worked posting labels on wine bottles The Cratchits' house is modelled on the small four-room house at 16 Bayham Street in Camden Town where Dickens lived in London The six Cratchit children correspond to the Dickens children of that time, the character of Tiny Tim being echoed in Charles's youngest, sickly brother who was known as "Tiny Fred" Victorian Era Reigned 1837 – 1901 She is the longest reigning monarch in British history Britain was at its wealthiest under her reign, but citizens suffered Victorian Era - a time of many contradictions Many social movements (including women's rights and unionisation) to do with morals and society clashed with a class system that permitted harsh living conditions for many. There was great contradiction between the an outward appearance of dignity and restraint and the occurrence of prostitution and child labour. The number of people living in Britain more than doubled from 16 to 37 million, raising demand for food, clothing and housing. Victorian ‘Posh’ People • Upper class families were very rich • Their homes & land were looked after by servants • Their food was prepared by cooks • Children were looked after by nannies Victorian Poor People • Four or five families lived in one house • Toilets were outside & shared by several houses • The old and orphans had to live in workhouses The Child's Life • Until 1891 children had to pay to go to school • Schools for the poor were called ‘Ragged Schools’ Typical work for children Picking up stones Factory work Opening doors in coal mines Chimney sweeping Child Labour Children were forced to work as soon as they could unless they were from a rich family. The Factory Act (1843) required working days for children aged 8-13 to be 6.5 hours or less How does it compare to today's living standard? The Poor Law In 1833 Earl Grey, the Prime Minister, set up a Poor Law Commission to examine the working of the poor Law system in Britain. In their report published in 1834, the Commission made several recommendations to Parliament. As a result, the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed. The act stated that: (a) no able-bodied person was to receive money or other help from the Poor Law authorities except in a workhouse; (b) conditions in workhouses were to be made very harsh to discourage people from wanting to receive help; (c) workhouses were to be built in every parish or, if parishes were too small, in unions of parishes; (d) ratepayers in each parish or union had to elect a Board of Guardians to supervise the workhouse, to collect the Poor Rate and to send reports to the Central Poor Law Commission; (e) the three man Central Poor Law Commission would be appointed by the government and would be responsible for supervising the Amendment Act throughout the country.