Charity in the Georgian Era: Lessons for Today?

Dr Andrew Rudd (University of Exeter)
14 December 2015

This paper offers a cultural history of charity from the beginning of the Georgian era in 1714 to the implementation of the Poor Law Amendment in 1834 (the 'New Poor Law'). Literary hsitorian Andrew Rudd will examine textual and visual representations of: charity institutions such as the Foundling Hospital; acts of charity in the writings of Dorothy and William Wordsworth; and pre-Reformation charity, which, he argues, formed a strong cultural memory in the period. 

The second part of the paper goes on to consider parallels between eighteenth and early nineteenth-century debate and questions facing charity leaders and policymakers today, drawing on Rudd's experience as former Parliamentary Manager at the Charity Commission.

The paper will take a 'long view' at issues such as the role of charity in relation to the state and the power of representation in shaping attitudes to charity - themes illustrated by the period's literature and art. The paper will, it is hoped, indicate the shared concerns between the charities in the Georgian era and today. 

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