BAVS 2013: Numbering Numbers

In a memorable scene from Dickens’s Hard Times, Sissy Jupe recounts to Louisa Gradgrind her failure in her lessons to understand the ‘true’ meaning of numbers. She laments: ‘And [Mr M’Choakumchild] said, This schoolroom is an immense town, and in it there are a million of inhabitants, and only five-and-twenty are starved to death in the streets, in the course of a year. What is your remark on that proportion? And my remark was – for I couldn’t think of

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Identifying the Victorian middle class

By Guy Woolnough At BAVS this year, Lucinda Matthews-Jones raised an interesting point about how we define class. How useful or sound is it to typify a person as ‘middle class’? What could that mean, when the individuals who might be so described are such a diverse group in every respect? Education, income, profession, respectability are so subjective and variable that they must be of poor value in any attempt to construct an objective assessment of the middle class status

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