Death, Grief and Poverty in Britain, 1870–1914

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Cambridge University Press, 2005 M07 25 - 294 pages
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With high mortality rates, it has been assumed that the poor in Victorian and Edwardian Britain did not mourn their dead. Contesting this approach, Julie-Marie Strange studies the expression of grief among the working class, demonstrating that poverty increased - rather than deadened - it. She illustrates the mourning practices of the working classes through chapters addressing care of the corpse, the funeral, the cemetery, commemoration, and high infant mortality rates. The book draws on a broad range of sources to analyse the feelings and behaviours of the labouring poor, using not only personal testimony but also fiction, journalism, and official reports. It concludes that poor people did not only use spoken or written words to express their grief, but also complex symbols, actions and, significantly, silence. This book will be an invaluable contribution to an important and neglected area of social and cultural history.

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Contents

revisiting the Victorian and Edwardian celebration of death
1
2 Life sickness and death
27
3 Caring for the corpse
66
4 The funeral
98
reassessing the pauper burial
131
the cemetery as a landscape for grief
163
7 Loss memory and the management of feeling
194
8 Grieving for dead children
230
death grief and the Great War
263
Bibliography
274
Index
290
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