Harriet Kettle, Victorian rebel

Historian article

By Andy Reid, published 5th May 2022

Harriet Kettle had a remarkable life. She was on the receiving end of everything that the institutions of social control in Victorian England could throw at her, but resisted, survived and fought back.

Harriet’s defiance earned her references in the records of a workhouse, two prisons, two asylums and, in later life, in the log-book of the board school attended by her children and one of her grandchildren.  Incidents involving her were reported in the columns of the local newspapers.  As a result, her life is much better documented than those of most other people from similar backgrounds.  Harriet was an ‘ordinary person’ of humble origins but her life was extraordinary and, in a way, a triumph...

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