Work, it might be argued, is one of the great overlooked subjects of British fiction, always in the background, always necessary, sometimes fervently desired, at other times roundly disdained, frequently a source of tension and unhappiness, but rarely conceptualized, deconstructed or otherwise considered as one of the key influences on our inner lives. Naturally, there are good reasons for this: one of them is sheer heredity. Victorian novelists were habitually uninterested in what their characters were doing for a living. When money turns up in a Dickens novel it tends to fall out of the air into the hero’s lap: the processes by which it is earned are entirely beyond his scope, together with any real knowledge of what happens on a shop-floor or in barristers’ chambers. — D. J. Taylor, “Worker bees,” Times Literary Supplement (18 & 25 December 2015): 3


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Skilled Labor — Craftsman

Semi-Skilled Labor

Agricultural Labor

Unskilled Labor

Gender and Work


Child Labor

Criminal classes

  • burglars ***
  • mudlarks ***
  • smash and grab ***

Dore's Pedlar

Dore's Woman Pedlar

Dore's Pedlar

Three London pedlars by Gustave Doré

Last modified 8 June 2018