Poverty in Victorian Britain

Lesson rationale

This activity seeks to explore the concept of poverty in both Victorian Britain and the present. Through the examination of primary source materials, students will develop an insight into the definition of poverty both then and now. They will examine how the nature, distribution of and attitudes towards poverty has changed (or not) over time in London.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • What is poverty?
  • How was poverty defined in the 19th century?
  • How is poverty defined today? And how similar/different is that definition to the 19th century one? Why?
  • How has poverty changed in London over time?
  • What can Charles Booth reveal about attitudes to poverty?