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Bread WinnerAn Intimate History of the Victorian Economy$
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Emma Griffin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300230062

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300230062.001.0001

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‘I worked alright, but I never got paid for my labour’

‘I worked alright, but I never got paid for my labour’

Women and Work1

Chapter:
(p.27) 1 ‘I worked alright, but I never got paid for my labour’
Source:
Bread Winner
Author(s):

Emma Griffin

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300230062.003.0002

This chapter takes a look at the trajectories of women and labour during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. It does so by exploring the autobiographies of several women, in which they detail their childhoods and eventually their careers and how their attempts at financial autonomy were thwarted in various ways by societal constraints and prejudices. As the chapter argues, low female wages were not merely a passive reflection of a society that devalued women and their work. They also played an active role in keeping women subordinate, by forcing them into a position of dependency on men, first with respect to their fathers, then with respect to their husbands. Making sense of women's lives therefore requires moving into an unfamiliar terrain. Women's experiences were not captured by male wage rates, yet they were deeply bound up with male earnings and male patterns of behaviour.

Keywords:   working women, domestic labour, autobiographies, female wages, male wages, women's experiences, women's work, Victorian era, Edwardian era

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