Simon Fowler's Workhouse breathes life into [the] subject -- Mark Crail for Ancestors magazine
This is an ideal read for any family historian wanting a proper,
rounded understanding of the workhouse system.
-- Mark Crail for Ancestors magazine
From the Inside Flap
Workhouses cast deep shadows over Victorian Britain and
terrified the poor for generations. Known for their soul-numbing routines,
deprivation and cruelty, they were after 1834 almost the sole source of
relief for paupers across the land. For old couples and orphans, starving
families and single mothers, these institutional monsters became what the
New Poor Law Act intended - the last resort of the desperate.
This compelling book takes you through the workhouse doors to reveal the
reality behind the legend. It explores all aspects of institutional life,
from everyday details of food, uniform and the daily grind to the scandals
that shocked society and were an impetus for change. It traces the
experiences of the guardians and staff who governed inmates' fates and
celebrates the men and women who tried to improve on the official regime.
The narrative describes how workhouses preoccupied literary giants such as
Charles Dickens and George Orwell, were condemned by celebrities like
Florence Nightingale, and yet became deeply rooted in their communities.
The many personal stories told range from that of the anonymous 'Indoor
Pauper' to accounts from famous figures like Charlie Chaplin. Reports and
complaints, ballads and graffiti, as well as rarely-seen images from the
National Archives and local sources, bring workhouses across England and
Wales vividly to life.