This anthology brings together writings ranging from the canonical to the obscure that suggest the scope of responses–from wondrous celebration to apocalyptic horror–elicited by the advent and establishment of the factory system in nineteenth-century Britain. Addressing complex questions about the possible effects of mass production on human life and labor, this collection presents important works by John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, and William Morris alongside lesser-known selections from factory tourists’ tales and inspectors’ reports, Parliamentary testimony, a Luddite pamphlet, and a cotton mill worker’s autobiography. These texts reveal the richness and complexity of the debates, contradictions, and conflicts that accompanied the rise of the factory as the most important site of commodity production. The selections are arranged and introduced in a way that helps students make sense of this complicated field. An introduction by the editor and a chronology of the British factory system help place the materials in their historical context.
Ideal for courses in Victorian history, literature, and culture, Factory Production in Nineteenth-Century Britain will also interest students of industrial development and of the history of economics, urbanization, women’s work, and childhood.