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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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‘Toil in the factory, toil in the home’

‘Toil in the factory, toil in the home’

Working Mothers

(p.160) 6 ‘Toil in the factory, toil in the home’
Bread Winner

Emma Griffin

Yale University Press

This chapter takes a look at the kind of options which were available to married women without a reliable breadwinner for support, and how they were able to navigate their way through these options. It emphasises the remarkably stable nature of the married women's participation in the workplace. A wide range of economic measures have indicated that the economy underwent unprecedented growth and restructuring after 1830, yet none of these changes appear to have made much of an impact on the likelihood of married women participating in the labour market. Equally, the nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of the breadwinning family model — the ideological justification for higher male wages, a wage sufficient to support the male breadwinner and his dependent wife and children at home. Yet this too had very little impact on women's experiences, failing to raise male wages to a level at which paid work for married women became unnecessary in most families. Indeed, as the autobiographies in this chapter show, it becomes evident that married women's working patterns do not fit into our usual ways of conceiving work at all.

Keywords:   working mothers, working women, married women, working patterns, female breadwinning, women labourers

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