Research from the School of History challenges previous accounts of the social impact of one of the most critical periods in British history.
Contrary to the view that the industrial revolution brought only misery and poverty to those who did most to produce it Prof. Emma Griffin’s research shows for the first time how it raised incomes, improved literacy and offered exciting opportunities for political action. For some it was also an era of new and much valued sexual and cultural freedom.
Prof. Griffin looked at more than 350 autobiographies and records written between 1760 and 1900 to offer a first-hand account of how the industrial revolution was experienced by those who lived through it. As a result she has been able to provide an alternative account of labour and the industrial revolution.
While poverty continued to be a way of life for many, industrialisation brought unexpected benefits for some sections of the labouring poor, providing people with a degree of personal freedom that the poor in the 18th century had rarely enjoyed.
School of History
My research to date has been on the social and economic history of Britain during the period 1700-1870, with a particular focus on the industrial revolution and on the lives of the working men, women, and children who made it happen. www.uea.ac.uk/history/people/profile/e-griffin