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Could You Have Survived Victorian Daily Life?

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At least you missed out on these miseries

A Victorian woman in a long red skirt and large hat swats at a baby-carrying stork with her umbrella. Postcard text reads: “And the villain still pursues her.”
A woman swats away the stork which has brought her a child. Public domain postcard. Wiki Commons.

Odds are, you’d have been born into a poor family. Child labour was the norm, so you might have died young in a mine or chimney, or perhaps been maimed in a factory accident. In 19th century Britain, the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals preceded by 60 years the founding of an organization for the protection of children!

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To little boys that suck their thumbs
And ere they dream what he’s about
He takes his great sharp scissors out
And cuts their thumbs clean off, and then
You know they never grow again.

Your adult daily life wouldn’t have been easy either. The necessary daily task of relieving yourself would not have been pleasant. You may have used an “earth closet,” a storage tank filled with dry earth that released a measured dose of dry soil into your receptacle.

Gladstone sanitary ware Moule earth closet. Photograph by Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent., CC BY-SA 3.0
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Corset. Public domain. Wiki Commons.

As a Victorian, you were likely morbidly anxious about death. Fear of a premature burial due to catalepsy — paralysis in which the victim seems dead while remaining conscious — was the dread disease of the day.

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“Improved burial case.” Public domain. Wiki Commons.
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