The inspiration for this book comes from the words of Adam Smith: `Consumption is the sole end of and purpose of all production....' This book concentrates, in that spirit, on people rather on things; it describes the overall income and wealth of Britain, its growth, and how that income andwealth was produced by and distributed between different people in the population. Population growth has a central place, as do the changes in home and workplace, in the transformation of the lives of successive generations in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. Between 1830 and 1914 Britain became the world's major trading nation, carrier of the majority of the world's goods, by far the largest investor overseas, and the centre of the world's financial system. It was an exceptional time in the history of the country and one to which many look back, even ahundred years later, with nostalgia. This book seeks to describe and assess what was achieved in those eighty-five years.