Monday, May 3, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Childhood and Death in Victorian England by Sarah Seaton

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Childhood and Death in Victorian England
by Sarah Seaton is a depressing book. The author tabulates childhood deaths from inquests during the Victorian era, materials that she found largely online. There is a wealth of data here, but it is mostly presented as anecdotes and lists. These are sorted into chapters based on types of deaths (industrial accidents, other accidents, disease, poverty, child abuse and neglect, etc.) Some of the anecdotes are cursory. Others are detailed and lurid. There isn’t any statistical analysis and the discussion, in general, is superficial. There is no presentation of what childhood was like for Victorian children who weren’t murdered, so it gives a rather biased view of life in Victorian England. Overall, I was disappointed with the book, expecting more from it than a catalogue of inquest findings. But the details that are presented are vivid, and the book serves to demonstrate that crimes against children are not only a modern day scourge.

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