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History Corner







Laslett: England Before The Industrial Age


Peter Laslett, The World We Have Lost: England Before the Industrial Age (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1965), 204-205.


‘English social experience since the death of Victoria is the only lengthy experience any country has ever had of really mature industralization. . . .


In so far as the industralizing process is to be described above all as a change in the scale of living . . . only in England does it seem to have been virtually complete by 1901.

What has happened since then has been a matter of the levelling up of standards, the lengthening of life, the diminution of poverty, the universalization of education. . . .


It is difficult for us now to realize what in meant in 1901 for England to have to recognize that after a century of leading the world in economic matters, when she was still undoubtedly the world’s greatest political and military power, still in many ways the world’s wealthiest power, a quarter of her population was living in poverty, in something like destitution.’