prison life in victorian england (the history press, 2007)

Prison Life in Victorian England by Michelle Higgs

Victorian prisons

Have you discovered your ancestor had a brush with the law? Or that he or she worked in an English prison? This book will give you a real insight into what daily life was like for prisoners, convicts and prison staff. It uses prison and court records, newspaper reports, contemporary accounts and photographs to bring this period of history to life.

The book is divided into four parts: Part 1 covers the background to the Victorian English prison system and sentencing; Part 2 describes life in prison including the daily routine, living conditions, diet and health, work and discipline; Part 3 is devoted to different kinds of prisoners and convicts; and Part 4 focuses on prison staff.

Well illustrated with 80 images, this book is a mine of information about daily life in the Victorian prison.

Signed copies of Prison Life in Victorian England are available direct from me.  Visit the shop for more information.

'A clearly written and beautifully illustrated introduction to the day-to-day experience of prison during its first century as the key penal institution in England...a lively text which should do much to open up the world of the Victorian prison to the general reader...'

Clive Emsley in Who Do You Think You Are?

The oakum room at Clerkenwell (The Illustrated London News, 1874)
Chained convicts at Princetown, Dartmoor, which was an invalid convict prison, circa 1900

'For those whose Victorian ancestors did time in prison, this book provides a detailed, well illustrated account of what happened to them, and why.'


' extensive history of every aspect of prison life in the 19th century, from the prison staff and their methods of discipline, to the prisoners and their daily routine...'

Family Tree

Women working in the laundry at Woking Prison (The Graphic, 1889).