In Bed with the Victorians

The Life-Cycle of Working-Class Marriage

  • Vicky Holmes

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Vicky Holmes
    Pages 15-33
  3. Vicky Holmes
    Pages 35-50
  4. Vicky Holmes
    Pages 51-64
  5. Vicky Holmes
    Pages 65-82
  6. Vicky Holmes
    Pages 83-102
  7. Vicky Holmes
    Pages 103-107
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 109-125

About this book


‘Vicky Holmes shows how we can understand gender and working-class married life through that most essential of objects: the bed.  It allows her to write in new ways about space and inter-personal relations.  This is a highly original exploration of the Victorian domestic interior which rethinks the way we study family history.’


Rohan McWilliam, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

‘Vicky Holmes takes us into that most intimate of domestic spaces, the bedroom, to peer into the marriages of working people. She shows us the marriage bed as a place to quarrel and to make up; a private space that was also, for some couples, embarrassingly public; a place of comfort for parents and children and one of sorrow; a symbol of togetherness and of loneliness. Through the records of coroners’ courts, In Bed with the Victorians offers readers a wonderful new insight into facets of life that have long remained hidden from history.’

Julie-Marie Strange, University of Manchester, UK

This book examines the life-cycle of Victorian working-class marriage through a study of the hitherto hidden marital bed. Using coroners’ inquests to gain intimate access to the working-class home and its inhabitants, this book explores their marital, quasi-marital, and post-marital beds to reveal the material, domestic, and emotional experience of working-class marriage during everyday life and at times of crisis. Drawing on the recent approach of utilising domestic objects to explore interpersonal relationships, the marital bed not only provides a rereading of the experiences of the working-class wife but also brings the much maligned or simply overlooked working-class husband into the picture. Moreover, it also extends our understanding of the various marriage-like arrangements existing throughout this class. Moving through the marital life-cycle, this book provides a greater understanding of marriages from the outset, during childbirth, at times of strife and marital breakdown, and upon the death of a spouse.


Material culture Long nineteenth century Domesticity Spatial history Nocturnal history

Authors and affiliations

  • Vicky Holmes
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-60389-6
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-60390-2
  • Buy this book on publisher's site