Working-Class Writing: Key Works

Please contact Helen Rogers (admin@writinglives.org) to suggest any additions to this list, or leave a comment below.

Ashton, Owen and Stephen Roberts, The Working-Class Writer London: Mansell, 1999

Boos, Florence. Working-Class Women Poets in Victorian Britain: An Anthology. Canada: Broadview Press, 2008 [An excellent anthology and good illustration of the kind of work we will be doing]

Burnett, John ed. Destiny Obscure: Autobiographies of Childhood, Education, and Family from the1820s to the 1920s. London: Alan Lane, 1982. [All Burnett’s anthologies are excellent. We will be working on autobiographies collected by John Burnett]

Burnett, John, David Mayall and David Vincent eds The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography 3 vols. (Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1897, 1989).

Burnett, John ed. Useful Toil: Autobiographies of Working People from the 1820s to the 1920s. London: Routledge, 1994.

Burnett, John ed. Idle Hands: The Experience of Unemployment, 1790-1990 London: Routledge, 1994.

Burnett, John. Plenty and Want: A Social History of Food in England from 1815 to the Present Day. London: Routledge, 1989.

Gagnier, Regenia. Subjectivities: A History of Self-Representation in Britain, 1832-1920. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. [A very influential study and useful for conceptualising working-class writing]

Gagnier, Regenia. ‘Working-Class Autobiography, Subjectivity, and Gender.’ Victorian Studies 30.3 (1987): 335-363 http://www.jstor.org/stable/3828397 [Summary of issues explored in book above]

Klaus, H. Gustav. The Literature of Labour: Two Hundred Years of Working-Class Writing. Brighton: Harvester, 1985. [Very good survey]

Maidment, Brian ed. The Poorhouse Fugitives: Self-Taught Poetry and Poets in Victorian Britain. Manchester: Carcanet, 1987. [Ground-breaking study of poetry by labouring poor]

Rose, Jonathan. The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001. [Very influential survey of reading habits and cultural ambitions based on autobiographies collected by Burnett, Mayall and Vincent]

Rose, Jonathan, ‘Rereading the English Common Reader: A Preface to a History of Audiences.’ Journal of the History of Ideas. 53. 1 (1992): 47-70 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2709910 [Useful summary of issues explored in book above]

Steedman, Carolyn. Landscape for a Goodwoman: A Story of Two Lives. London: Virago, 1986. [Part history, part biography, part autobiography: very imaginative and provocative study paying much more attention to issues of subjectivity than traditional historical writing about class]

Vicinus, Martha. The Industrial Muse: A Study of Nineteenth-Century British Working-class Literature. London: Croom Helm, 1974. [A pioneering work in field of working-class literature and culture]

Vincent, David. Bread, Knowledge and Freedom: A Study of Nineteenth-Century Working-Class Autobiography. London: Methuen, 1981. [A brilliant survey of lives and writings of autobiographers]

Vincent, David. ‘Love and Death and the Nineteenth-Century Working Class.’ Social History, 5.2 (1980): 223-247 http://www.jstor.org/stable/4284976. [Summary of many of key themes in book above]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *