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Old November 2nd, 2017, 08:47 PM   #1

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1870s England: life, beliefs, morals and society


I'm reading a novel that claims that most people of the lower classes didn't even know what year it was at any given time.

The book also claims these same people couldn't recognize a statue of King George.

And that some girls turned to prostitution as young as 13 years old. But, that most girls didn't even reach puberty until 15 or 16. Were people developing differently back then?

I'm sure I'll have more questions as I progress further into the book. These things have irked me though, as this author supposedly did a lot of research for his book.
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Old November 2nd, 2017, 11:12 PM   #2
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The Great Train Robbery ?
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Old November 2nd, 2017, 11:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menshevik View Post
I'm reading a novel that claims that most people of the lower classes didn't even know what year it was at any given time.

The book also claims these same people couldn't recognize a statue of King George.

And that some girls turned to prostitution as young as 13 years old. But, that most girls didn't even reach puberty until 15 or 16. Were people developing differently back then?

I'm sure I'll have more questions as I progress further into the book. These things have irked me though, as this author supposedly did a lot of research for his book.
At that time most of the poorest people would be quite ignorant about
anything outside their daily life (and not just in England).
Not sure about the not knowing what year it is, though.
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Old November 2nd, 2017, 11:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menshevik View Post
I'm reading a novel that claims that most people of the lower classes didn't even know what year it was at any given time.

The book also claims these same people couldn't recognize a statue of King George.

And that some girls turned to prostitution as young as 13 years old. But, that most girls didn't even reach puberty until 15 or 16. Were people developing differently back then?

I'm sure I'll have more questions as I progress further into the book. These things have irked me though, as this author supposedly did a lot of research for his book.
The late puberty was just due a poor diet.
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Old November 2nd, 2017, 11:45 PM   #5

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The late puberty was just due a poor diet.
I see. That makes total sense.

Thanks.
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Old November 3rd, 2017, 02:02 AM   #6

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Sounds about right to me too. But as Lalli says, England wasn't isolated in that!
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Old November 3rd, 2017, 02:34 AM   #7

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It would be true. To an extent.

But novels are likely to over egg the pudding for effect.
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Old November 3rd, 2017, 03:34 AM   #8

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You don't say who the novel is by or where it is set; London was very different from Norwich or rural Somerset.

For really detailed information about the way of life of the London poor, and what different types of people knew or didn't know, the three volumes of Mayhew's work on the London poor is the best source (containing many interviews with all knds of people):
https://archive.org/search.php?query...ondon%20labour
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Old November 3rd, 2017, 03:45 AM   #9
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You don't say who the novel is by or where it is set; London was very different from Norwich or rural Somerset.

For really detailed information about the way of life of the London poor, and what different types of people knew or didn't know, the three volumes of Mayhew's work on the London poor is the best source (containing many interviews with all knds of people):
https://archive.org/search.php?query...ondon%20labour
My guess: The great train robbery by Michael Crichton.
It has been several years since I read it, but there was lot of detailed
information about the Victorian society.

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Old November 3rd, 2017, 03:58 AM   #10

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I read that ages ago, but can't remember much about it!

The vital point to keep in mind with regard to the original question is that one cannot generalise about the 'lower classes', a street-seller, a beggar, a factory worker, a rural labourer, a craftsman, a servant in a small house or a great house, a soldier, were all totally different kinds of people. If some would be totally ignorant, others could read and write and could even become quite knowledgeable. There was for, instance, a notable culture of self-education in the Victorian working class, which was a factor that led Labour politics to take the particular course that it did.
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