The Wrongs of Woman, by Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846). Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846).

The Wrongs of Woman is a nineteenth century novel by the English writer, Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846; she wrote as Charlotte Elizabeth), about the life of lace embroiderers in England. Tonna wrote several books on the contemporary social and economic conditions of women.

The Wrongs of Woman was published in four volumes in1843-1844 and describes the life of Kate Clark, a young country girl who became a lace runner’s apprentice working from home. When she starts she is a happy and healthy child, but the working conditions, long hours, poor pay and lack of food, turn her, like the other apprentices, into a sickly and dirty worker. There is a deliberate contrast between the white lace produced and the conditions of the workers.

The woman teaching the apprentices has a baby and in order to be able to work, the baby is fed opium so that it does not cry. Gradually the baby sickens, starves and dies. In order to pay for the baby’s coffin, the teacher and Kate ask help of the man who collects the finished products. He refuses, but suggests that Kate becomes a prostitute in order to raise the money. Despite being ill she agrees, so going even lower in the social order of the time.

See also the Needles entry on the 1848 poem, The Christian Muse's Birth-Place.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 8 June 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 15 March 2017 17:59