Working-Class Childhood

Jeremy Seabrook

John Burnett | Published in 31 Mar 1983

'Childhood has become a major source of industry in the twentieth century', Jeremy Seabrook comments: so also, it might be said, has writing about childhood. After long neglect by historians, the importance and interest of childhood has recently been 'discovered', and starting with Philippe Aries' Centuries of Childhood in 1965, we have been offered a variety of interpretations of its changing nature and public recognition over time. If, as most writers agree, childhood first emerged as a distinct, recognised status in the wealthy, bourgeois family of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, only penetrating to the poorer working-classes in the nineteenth, it is natural that much of the recent research has focused on the silent majority.

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