Saturday, 5 December 2020

An Edwardian Childhood


I recently bought this book, An Edwardian Childhood, second-hand from a charity shop and have enjoyed dipping into it and reading about some of the vivid experiences recalled by children who lived at that time.

The Edwardian period is generally said to have lasted from 1901 to 1914, and was a time when children were no longer treated as miniature adults and childhood became a time of innocence and joy (at least for those in the middle and upper classes).

Many children whose memories grace this book were brought up by nurses and nannies, and I was struck by how much emphasis was placed on order and self-control.  Rigid routines were often strictly adhered to, and an overall aim seemed to be to teach children self-discipline.

A strong emphasis was placed on good manners and consideration for other people.  Dirty clothes made work for others, so you kept yourself clean.

There are stories of food being presented at several meals running until you ate it – teaching you to be polite and eat all that was placed in front of you.   Nursery food, plain and simple, was the order of the day and cake and sweets were joyous treats.

Fresh air and play were important for bodily health, so regular outdoor activities were scheduled.  Indoors, lessons and games were used to stimulate little minds.  Reading was encouraged, especially if the book promoted courage and bravery, or imparted interesting and important facts.

Outings broadened a child’s horizon but were still rare enough to be regarded with awe.  Things like trips to a toy shop, a visit to a museum, or attending a Christmas pantomime, were special treats to be savoured and enjoyed.

Times have certainly changed in the last one hundred years!

Margaret 😊



“An Edwardian Childhood”

By Jane Pettigrew

Published 1991 by Little, Brown and Company, London

ISBN 0-316-88865-6

Illustrations in this post here are all taken from this book



  1. Times really have changed! I love the beautiful pictures in books like that.

  2. That's a lovely book and looks to be full of pictures and information. Life for children now is unbelievably different.

  3. That would be interesting reading.

  4. As Henny Penny said wonderful pictures.

  5. Looks like an intriguing book, thanks for all the insights and beautiful pictures. B x

  6. I love the paintings in that book.
    Sad that it all came to an end with the First World War, although I'm glad we no longer give children the same food until they've eaten it!

  7. When I look at some of the small (and older) children with completely arbitrary and changeable food fads I think there was something in the Edwardian approach. When I was a toddler there was rationing and if I didn't eat something there was no alternative. As a consequence I knew few people who didn't eat almost anything. Indeed, even now, I will eat almost anything put in front of me if I have to. That does not apply to tripe which when I was small was not eaten in our house but was a seriously horrible sight in the shop window. Only when I lived in New Zealand did I realise how good it could be....but I still can't eat it.

  8. Yes, you are right, times have changed, but it was important for children who were becoming adults, now there is upbringig without stress at home, at schools and the young teenager face with difficult conditions of life, work
    etc.What a pity, this helped children learn discipline, self- control and be empatic to others.I can agree with my blogfriends ,these pictures are wonderful working in every detal,greetings from ann

  9. Such an interesting book with lovely pictures. It looks very idyllic, but does not sound like it was.

  10. Hello,
    The illustrations are beautiful. Thanks for sharing the review!
    Take care, have a happy weekend!

  11. My mum would have grown up in that time frame 1901-14, she was born in 1906. However, no nannies or nurses in her family. Six children, lots of hard work. I wish I had asked her more about her childhood while I had the chance.

  12. Some things have changed in "my" family (my Brother´s), luckily not everything.
    No smartphone. Play outside!!! And the Big Niece at least is polite and caring.
    But sweets are an everyday-thing. Beats me, but I´m just the auntie, right.
    Here I see too many kids out of control, it´s a pain!
    Not all of them, certain- and luckily!

  13. Oh my yes. Times have changed thankfully.

  14. Many thanks for sharing this book.
    Aren't the illustrations wonderful.

    All the best Jan

  15. I expect that the book was a little fanciful, made quite delightful in that manner too, but any objective study of the history of that period reveals that for most children life was often difficult, and quite brutish. The middle class was a very small percentage of the population, and most children were raised in dire poverty with inadequate nutrition and were put out to work at a very young age, into coal mines and dark, hellish factories with bad air and twelve hour work days. Thank goodness times have changed, and for those who whine today about trade unions, thank goodness trade unions were there to advance the welfare of the working (oppressed) classes.


Thank-you for visiting my blog. I love it when you leave a comment so please feel free to have your say. Have a great day! Margaret xx