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Workers and bohemians
That in this land of abounding wealth, during a time of perhaps unexampled prosperity,
Privileged Edwardians lived a rarefied existence, hardly acknowledging the harsher and darker side of life. High society depended upon the ‘secret’ masses who worked unobtrusively for low wages and lived in crowded conditions. They worked as domestic servants, labourers in factories or in fields, or at home as seamstresses and knitters paid by the piece. Costermongers or barrowmen earned what they could
Some artists and their wives rejected the restrictive middle-class codes of conduct and lived as bohemians, adopting the free-flowing dress of gypsies. This ‘artistic dress’ was also recommended by the ‘maternal feminists’ who claimed that if women wore freer clothes they would do less damage to their bodies, and thus be able to bear healthier children.
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