Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Hilary Buxton

Second Advisor

Robert Franco


This thesis analyzes the relationships and interactions between prostitutes and other citizens in nineteenth-century Bristol, United Kingdom. The city played an essential role in the establishment of the British empire as it was the main port of the slave trade; yet, with the abolishment of the trade in the 1830s, the loci of Britain’s prosperity had changed by the 1850s to larger port cities, such as London and Manchester. Thus, by the reign of Queen Victoria, the city was struggling to create an economic identity that would allow it to adapt to the new Britain. The working-class nature of the city, along with the lack of stable incomes for many, drove women to sex work as a form of additional income. Due to the city’s unique socio-economic atmosphere, along with the various activist groups regarding prostitution that emerged there in the Victorian era, Bristol becomes an interesting case study to observe the interactions between prostitutes and other members of the community. The latter groups’ social and official policing led to the cyclical nature of crime due to difficulty finding new professions and the labeling of prostitutes as unfit mothers, ultimately hurting the women that the groups were created to aid. Despite these complexities, there is a gap in the literature about prostitution in Victorian-era Bristol, allowing for this project to produce unique and new research.

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