Workhouse Literature and Arts
The poor laws and the workhouse inspired their own genre of literature and art. Popular songs and poems ranged from the sentimental (e.g. In the Workhouse: Christmas day), through the satirical (e.g. The New Poor Law in Force), to the sheer gruesome (e.g. The Vorkhouse Boy). James Greenwood's lurid account of A Night in a Workhouse spawned a whole line of undercover exposés of workhouse life by numerous "social explorers" including Jack London (The People of the Abyss) and George Orwell (The Spike) and the less well-known but equally significant Mary Higgs (Glimpses of the Abyss) and Olive Malvery (The Soul Market). In more recent times, commemoration of the Irish Famine has produced some remarkable works of sculpture.
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.