Rhyme and Reform

Victorian Working-Class Poets Elizabeth Barrett Brownings "The Cry of the Children"


What was it like to be a child working in British factories and mines in the nineteenth century? Click the links below to watch these videos to find out.

The White Slaves of England: Nineteenth-Century Child Miners

Video created by Caroline Lunsford

John’s Journey: A Day in the Life of a Nineteenth-Century Child Laborer

Video created by Elaine Renberg


After viewing these videos, consider the following questions:

  1. At the beginning of the video, the narrator illustrated the living conditions and environment of working class children. How does this environment specifically compare to your childhood home? How do the living conditions of child laborers affect the child’s typical day?
  2. How does the situation of child labor in Wolverhampton reflect the sentiments expressed by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Cry of the Children?
  3. Think about the sound of the factory in the background of the “Imagine yourself…” section of the video. Could you take a test with this sound in the background? How do you think auditory experience affected child laborers?
  4. As seen in the video, child labor hinders physical, moral, and intellectual development. Specifically, can you think of a particular instance throughout a nineteenth-century child’s day that restricts this development? In this sense, do you view child labor as a simple or complex issue?



erik_swanson • July 17, 2018

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