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Synopsis

During the reign of Queen Victoria, industrialisation changed every aspect of rural life. Industrial diversification led to a decline in agriculture and mass migration from country to town and city – in 1851 half the population lived in the countryside, but by 1901 only a quarter did so. This book outlines the changes and why they occurred. It paints a picture of country life as it was when Victoria came to the throne and shows how a recognisably modern version of the British countryside had established itself by the end of her reign. Cheap food from overseas meant that Britain was no longer self-sufficient but it freed up money to be spent on other goods: village industries and handcrafts were undercut by the new industrial technology that brought about mass production, and markets were replaced by shops that grew into department stores.

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