This remarkable book looks at hundreds of autobiographies penned between 1760 and 1900 to offer an intimate firsthand account of how the Industrial Revolution was experienced by the working class. The Industrial Revolution brought not simply misery and poverty. On the contrary, Griffin shows how it raised incomes, improved literacy, and offered exciting opportunities for political action. For many, this was a period of new, and much valued, sexual and cultural freedom.
This rich personal account focuses on the social impact of the Industrial Revolution, rather than its economic and political histories. In the tradition of best-selling books by Liza Picard, Judith Flanders, and Jerry White, Griffin gets under the skin of the period and creates a cast of colorful characters, including factory workers, miners, shoemakers, carpenters, servants, and farm laborers.