chapter  10
15 Pages

Urbanisation: Discourse class gender in mid-Victorian photographs of maids – reading the archive of Arthur J. Munby

WithSarah Edge

This article considers a series of photographs held in an archive compiled by Arthur J. Munby

(1828-1910), now housed in Trinity College Cambridge.2 Munby kept records, diaries and pur-

chased photographs (64 diary volumes, 12 notes books and hundreds of photographs), relating to

working-class women in Britain from 1859 to 1898. To date, however, there has been surpris-

ingly little research on this rather unique collection (though see Allen, 2000; Edge, 1998;

Hiley, 1979; Hudson, 1972; McClintock, 1995; Pollock, 1993; Reay, 2002). This article will

add to this body of work by considering the 70 or so ambrotypes of urban servant women

that originate from central London between 1859 and 1865. It will focus on these very first

photographic representations of the working class to consider the role visual discourses might

have played in the construction of discourses of class in this formative period.