In this companion volume to Useful Toil, John Burnett has drawn extensively on over eight hundred previously unpublished manuscripts. The result is a unique record of childhood that reveals in intimate detail the trials and hard-won triumphs of nineteenth-century working-class life. Besides affording rare insights into the developing child's world of dreams, hopes and fears, they reflect a crucial period in the evolution of a family tradition; a time when, to counteract the brutalizing pressures of urbanization and industrialization, ordinary people turned to each other for support.
Children have seldom had a voice in history: these writers and their experiences take their place as part of the essential fabric of our past.
[of Destiny Obscure and Useful Toil] `They are handy and accessible collections of extracts from a particular group pf primary sources…' - Times Literary Supplement
`Both provide a wealth of primary source material for historians of all ages; both are wonderful incentives to contemporary autobiographical writing.' - Times Educational Supplement