C is for Carmen, Carriers, and Carters
I’m going to tend to be biased towards any professions involving a horse, so here’s a Carter. I got the dog from this wonderful description of Carters and Carmen — “He is invariably attended by a dog, which might have been trained by Ducrow, for it is capable of riding upon anything, from a cask to the end of a sugar-cane, and all it seems to delight in is balancing itself on all kinds of imaginable things, and barking at every object that passes”. Women were a very small set of the 29,000 in this profession in England and Wales in 1881, they would have to be tough characters.
I bypassed the 302,367 women employed in Cotton Manufacture— the third largest group; also charwomen, costermongers, confectioners (13,051!), chandlers, chemists (631) coal-dealers, and a surprising number of Clerks- almost 6000, and another 3000 in the civil service, a profession I thought was all-male.
B is for Bookbinder
For today’s Victorian Working Woman, I could have done one of the 7,633 Bakers or 4,185 Brush-Makers or 3,496 Butchers. Or one of 3,728 Beer-Dealers. Or one of thousands of Button-, Brick-, Bolt-, or Blanket- Manufacturers. Or Worker in Brass or a Worker in Bone. There’s 347 Blacksmiths, 85 Brick-Layers, 86 Bank Service Workers, 76 Bicycle Makers! which I long to sketch. There’s even 5 Bankers. But I opted for a Bookbinder.
A is for Agricultural Labourer
I really ought to complete A-To-Z Scientists, but I had a fit of irritation at something that’s been bugging me about fiction set in the Victorian (or alternate-Victorian!) times. And that is, why is every single woman either a ‘Prostitute!’ or a ‘Lady!’ Don’t be boring, fiction writers!
So, based on the 1881 Census, I’m starting an A-to-Z Victorian Working Women!