Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 91%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (19) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $11.36   
  • Used (11) from $1.99   


In a provocative study that bristles with contemporary relevance, Himmelfarb demonstrates that the material and moral dimensions of poverty were inseparable in the minds of late Victorians, be they radical or conservative.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A monumental achievement. "—Wall Street Journal
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a provocative study that bristles with contemporary relevance, Himmelfarb demonstrates that the material and moral dimensions of poverty were inseparable in the minds of late Victorians, be they radical or conservative. Nov.
Library Journal
Himmelfarb is the reigning authority on Victorian social thought. This worthy sequel to her widely acclaimed The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial Age LJ 12/1/83 studies the late Victorian effort to attack poverty by harnessing scientific methods to achieve social reform. She examines Charles Booth and Beatrice Webb, the Salvation Army and the Fabians, the development of concepts such as unemployment and the poverty line. But she also considers both historians' attitudes toward Victorian thought and its relevance to our present dilemmas. A masterful and incisive study and highly readable; essential for Victorian specialists, those interested in the history of social thought, and collections serving either.-- Nancy C. Cridland, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington
Kirkus Reviews
In this erudite, sweeping, and subtle study of attitudes toward the poor in late Victorian England, formidable intellectual historian Himmelfarb (The New History and the Old, 1987; The Idea of Poverty, 1984, etc.; History/CUNY) shows that she is as gifted with "moral imagination" as the philanthropists she so much admires. Using Charles Booth's 17-volume Life and Labour of the People of London (1982), Himmelfarb begins by distinguishing between statistical and perceived poverty, exploring the enigma of how, statistically, there could have been as much poverty at the close of the 19th century as Malthus and Mayhew had claimed earlier (about 30% of the population) although the quality of life had improved, with the poor having the advantages of more education, sanitation, housing, health care, security, and pensions. A humanitarian businessman, Booth was primarily concerned with helping the laboring or "deserving" poor as opposed to the destitute, those without access to these advantages. Similar humanitarian efforts based on science and morality were organized through secular charities, socialist religions, and odd groups such as the Salvation Army and trade unions, as well as through such individuals as Octavia Hill, who appropriated small clusters of houses all over London for the poor. The fear was that the poor would become dependent on assistance, that charity would become welfare. And that, Himmelfarb explains, is exactly what happened through the reforms of socialist groups such as the Marxists and Fabians, leading ultimately to the nationalization of resources, though not property, and the distribution of benefits among all those who fell below some arbitrary level ofacceptability. Difficult, provocative, eloquent, and packed with original observations relevant to our time. Himmelfarb concludes that, although the definition of poverty will change, there will always be a stable reservoir of poor requiring the social conscience, compassion, and charitable action exemplified by the later Victorians.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679741732
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/27/1992
  • Edition description: 1st Vintage Books ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 492
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)