Working-Class Women Poets in Victorian Britain
An Anthology
  • Publication Date: June 12, 2008
  • ISBN: 9781551115962 / 1551115964
  • 366 pages; 6" x 9"

Broadview eBooks are available on a variety of platforms. To learn more, please visit our eBook information page.

Note on pricing.

Request Exam Copy

Examination copy policy

Availability: Worldwide

Working-Class Women Poets in Victorian Britain

An Anthology

  • Publication Date: June 12, 2008
  • ISBN: 9781551115962 / 1551115964
  • 366 pages; 6" x 9"

Though working-class women in the nineteenth century included many accomplished and prolific poets, their work has often been neglected by critics and readers in favour of comparable work by men. Questioning the assumption that few poems by working-class women had survived, Florence Boos set out to discover supposedly lost works in libraries, private collections, and archives. Her years of research resulted in this anthology.

Working-Class Women Poets in Victorian Britain features poetry from a variety of women, including an itinerant weaver, a rural midwife, a factory worker protesting industrialization, and a blind Scottish poet who wrote in both the Scots dialect and English. In addition to biographical information and contemporary reviews of the poets’ work, the anthology also includes several photographs of the poets, their environment, and the journals in which their poems appeared.


“Florence Boos has produced a fascinating anthology and a learned interpretive study in one volume. Boos is passionate in her claims for the social life of poetry and careful in her presentation of individuality of each of these writing women. The poems include political ballads, personal lyrics, and selections of prose that often give insights into what poetic vocation meant to working women. Boos provides excellent introductions to each poet. This is a beautiful labor of love, and will delight scholars, general readers, and poets.” — Anne Janowitz, Queen Mary University of London

“This anthology is essential reading for anyone concerned with women’s writing. The work of these indomitable women shows human determination at its strongest and most moving. These poets elegize the tragic deaths of their children, celebrate the beauties of the natural world, and deplore war and injustice. Hampered by neglected or interrupted education and often dogged by poverty, they overcome their disadvantages with great dignity. We should read them now and give them the praise they deserve.” — Dorothy McMillan, University of Glasgow


Janet Hamilton

  • Introduction
    A Plea for the Doric
    A Wheen Aul’ Memories
    The Feast of the “Mutches”
    Oor Location
    Rhymes for the Times II
    Rhymes for the Times IV
    Rhymes for the Times V
    Grannie Visited at Blackhill, Shotts, July, 1805
    Auld Mither Scotland
    Grannie’s Crack About the Famine in Auld Scotlan’, 1739-40
    Grannie’s Dream—A True Incident
    Effie—A Ballad
    Preface to Poems, Essays and Sketches
    Preface to Memorial Edition, James Hamilton
    Janet Hamilton at her “Ain Fireside,” Alexander Wallace
    Janet Hamilton on the Education of Women
    Scottish Peasant Life and Character in Days of Auld Langsyne
    Sketch of a Scottish Out-door Communion Sabbath in Times
    Gone By
    Local Changes
    Sketch of a Scottish Village
    From The Mental and Moral Dignity of Woman, by the Rev. Benjamin

The Rural Poets

Anonymous Celtic Songs Collected by Alexander Carmichael

  • Introduction
    The Apple Tree
    New Moon
    My Father and Mother Will Kill Me

Isabella Chisholm

  • Introduction
    The Wicked Who Would Do Me Harm
    Exorcism of the Eye
    Counteracting the Evil Eye

Elizabeth Duncan Campbell

  • Introduction
    The Death of Willie, My Second Son
    A Prison Cell
    The Crimean War
    The Summer Night
    The Mother’s Lament
    The Life of My Childhood
    Mrs. Campbell: A Criticism, by George Gilfillan

Jane Stevenson

  • Introduction
    The Wandering Dog
    The Fairy Dale
    The Prophetess, Or Seer of Visions
    Preface from Homely Musings

Elizabeth Horne Smith

  • Introduction
    The Armenian Atrocities
    A Midnight Meeting with the Ghost of Burns, July, 1896
    My Friend
    Lines to J —— B——, Dunfermline
    “In the Foremost Files. Elizabeth Horne Smith, Farmworker and Poetess.,” by the Rev. P[aul] Anton

Mary MacDonald MacPherson

  • Introduction
    Incitement of the Gaels
    Farewell to the New Christmas
    A Prose Translation: “Ivory and the Crofters,” Donald Meek

The Factory Poets


  • Introduction
    The Indomitable Will
    Posted Books
    Sibyl, the Far-Seer
    An Autumn Evening, People’s and Howitt’s Journal, 1849

Ellen Johnston

  • Introduction
    Lines to Isabel from the Factory Girl
    The Factory Girl’s Reply to Edith
    The Last Sark
    The Maid of Dundee to Her Slumbering Muse
    The Last Lay of “The Factory Girl”
    Edith, from Preface to Second Edition, Autobiography, Poems and Songs
    Selections from the “Autobiography of Ellen Johnston”

Ruth Wills

  • Introduction
    A Lament
    The Seen and the Unseen
    “The Factory Poetess,” from The Working Man
    Application to the Royal Literary Fund, 1863
    Last Will and Testament of Ruth Wills

Fanny Forrester

  • Introduction
    Dying in the City
    The Lowly Bard
    The Bitter Task
    To “Sabina”
    Application to the Royal Literary Fund from Mrs. Ellen Forrester
    “Fanny Forrester,” Ben Brierley’s Journal, 1875

Ethel Carnie

  • Introduction
    A Marching Tune
    An Old Woman’s Hands
    A Washerwoman
    A Lament
    A Riding Song
    “A Lancashire Fairy. An Interview with Miss Ethel Carnie”
    “Paddling your Own Canoe,” Miss Nobody
    “Modern Womanhood,” The Woman Worker, 1909
    Letter from Ethel Carnie to Graham Wallas

Lyricists and Feminists

Eliza Cook

  • Introduction
    Song of the City Artisan
    The Streets
    A Song:To “The People” of England
    They All Belong to Me
    Song of the Red Man
    Lines Suggested by the Song of a Nightingale
    To the Late William Jerdan
    “Advice to the Ladies,” from Eliza Cook’s Journal, 1850
    Letter from Eliza Cook, 1838
    Letter from Eliza Cook, 1864

Mary Smith

  • Introduction
    “Women’s Claims”
    Our Village
    Life Similes
    The Snow Storm
    My Mother-Sister
    Selections from “Progress”
    Selections from The Autobiography of Mary Smith

Jessie Russell

  • Introduction
    Preface to The Blinkin’ O’ the Fire
    The Blinkin’ O’ the Fire
    Women’s Rights vs.Woman’s Wrongs
    The Mother’s Story
    Oor Flittin’

Jeannie Graham Paterson

  • Introduction
    A Brighter Dawn
    Speak the Words
    Class Distinction
    A Song of Liberty
    A Freen’ly Crack
    To One Who Believes that Women are Soulless

Marion Bernstein

  • Introduction
    Mirren’s Autobiography
    Wanted in Glasgow
    Come Back to Me,Ye Happy Dreams
    Manly Sports
    Wanted a Husband
    A Dream
    Application to the Royal Literary Fund, 1904


  1. General Works
  2. Some Little-Educated or Working-Class Victorian Women Poets Who Published Books Not Included in this Anthology
  3. Comprehensive Bibliography
  4. Periodicals

Index of Titles
Index of First Lines

Florence S. Boos is Professor of English at the University of Iowa. She has written widely on Victorian literature, particularly on the Pre-Raphaelites and on poetry by women.