Few images conjure up the desperation of Victorian poverty as much as the dreaded workhouse. The bleakness of life within those walls was chronicled by Charles Dickens, whose novelOliver Twist highlighted the plight of pauper children trapped within this system. The workhouse was not, however, the fate of all of Britain’s most deprived children in the 19th century. As Lesley Hulonce shows in this month’s cover feature, the authorities tried a range of alternative approaches to lift these vulnerable youngsters out of poverty. Turn to page 22 to find out more.
This year sees the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, one of the pivotal events of European history. It’s a topic we will be returning to on a number of occasions in the following months, but we begin our coverage this issue in an interview with one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject: Eamon Duffy. As he explains on page 63, the events of 1517 continue to resonate in modern times, even influencing the vote to leave the European Union.
We are living in times of great upheaval, and amid the huge changes taking place, history itself may be in some peril. New forms of communication, such as social media and email, mean that the records of the present could present significant challenges to historians of the future. On page 41, Jane Winters reveals the dangers history faces and offers her thoughts about what we can do to ensure it remains in rude health in the decades and centuries to come.