Victorian Popular Fictions 3.2 4 Breton

Women and Children First:

Appropriated Fiction in the Ten Hours’ Advocate


Rob Breton

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This article examines interclass strategies to bring about reform in mid-nineteenth century England. It specifically explores the way the Ten Hours’ Advocate, a paper written for the working classes, looked to present itself as a middle-class periodical in order to further the argument for factory reform. In reproducing fiction filched from middle-class periodicals, the Advocate performed its argument for the Factory Bill: that the Bill would ease social tensions, dissipate the Chartist or radical threat, and ensure a “return” to traditional gender roles. The appropriated fiction is mild, rather bland; the non-fictional argument  for reform  is  direct  and  unapologetic.  That  the  Advocate  was opportunistic  in  the  way  it  made  the  case  for  reform  is  an example  of  the  advantages  provided  to  reformers  by  the absence of strict copyright laws and by Victorian periodical culture in general. But it also contextualises the debate over the family-wage argument and the working-class role in hardening the Victorian sexual division of labour.


Victorian periodical culture; Ten Hours’ Advocate, factory reform; family wage; gender roles; radicalism; Chartism

Date of Acceptance: 8 December 2021

Date of Publication: 17 December 2021

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation:

Breton, Rob. 2021. “Women and Children First: Appropriated Fiction in the Ten Hours’ Advocate.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 3.2 (Autumn): 63-75. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online)  DOI:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.