The Last of the climbing boys

George Elson
< George Elson The Last of the climbing boys (John Long, 1900)

George Elson's autobiography was published when he was 67.

"A most interesting account of upward mobility from a beggar and travelling chimney-sweep, experiencing hunger, poverty and an outdoor existence, to a position of respectability as successful masseur to the gentry, living in a large house and employing servants.

"Fascinating descriptions are provided of an itinerant way of life, with comments on other travellers such as the navvies, Irish labourers, gypsies and pot-hawkers. Other subjects include seasonal labour and the beginnings of trade unionism among agricultural labourers. The autobiography was intended to encourage others to avoid temptations and illegal activities even if experiencing deprivation and external hardships." 1

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George Elson

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  Malcolm Shifrin, 1991-2023

 1. Autobiography of the working class: an annotated critical bibliography; edited by John Burnett, David Vincent and David Mayall (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1984) 3 Volumes [return]