Disability in industrial Britain

A cultural and literary history of impairment in the coal industry, 1880-1948

By Kirsti Bohata, Alexandra Jones, Mike Mantin and Steven Thompson

Disability in industrial Britain

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2431-9
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: January 2020
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Disability: social aspects, Modern History, History, Disability: social aspects, MEDICAL / History, HISTORY / General, Medicine / History of medicine, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Humanities / Industrialisation & industrial history
  • Series: Disability History


An electronic version of this book is also available under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND) license, thanks to the support of the Wellcome Trust.

Coalmining was a notoriously dangerous industry and many of its workers experienced injury and disease. However, the experiences of the many disabled people within Britain's most dangerous industry have gone largely unrecognised by historians. This book looks at British coal through the lens of disability, using an interdisciplinary approach to examine the lives of disabled miners and their families.

A diverse range of sources are used to examine the economic, social, political and cultural impact of disability in the coal industry, looking beyond formal coal company and union records to include autobiographies, novels and existing oral testimony. It argues that, far from being excluded entirely from British industry, disability and disabled people were central to its development. The book will appeal to students and academics interested in disability history, disability studies, social and cultural history and representations of disability in literature.


'Rich sources and powerful stories animate this volume. [...] Disability in Industrial Britain is a major contribution to our understanding of the British coalfield when it was at the heart of a leading industrial economy. Bohata et al.'s emphasis on disability as a centrally constitutive part of coalfield life is highly original and forms a logical extension to the evolution of the historiography towards community, embodiment and cultural production.'
Reviews in History

This volume is well written and has a clear structure which drives efficiently and engagingly to the authors' conclusions.'
Labour History Review

'The authors tell not one story but many stories, highlighting distinct regional and national trajectories informed by the divergent pace of industrialization across the United Kingdom, variations in geology and geography, and distinctive religious, political, and industrial cultures. They succeed in bringing to visibility fragments of individual stories that remind us of both the difficulties and rewards of retrieving the voices of disabled people.'
H-Disability, Vicky Long


1. Work, economy and disability in the British coalfields
2. Medicalising miners in the twentieth century? Medicine, care and rehabilitation
3. Systems of financial support for disabled miners and their families
4. Social relations in the construction and experience of disability
5. The politicisation of disability
6. Disability in coalfields literature 1880-1948


Steven Thompson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and Welsh History at Aberystwyth University

Mike Mantin was Research Fellow for the Disability and Industrial Society project

Kirsti Bohata is Professor of English and Director of CREW, the Centre for Research into the English Literature and
Language of Wales at Swansea University

Alexandra Jones was on a Full PhD Studentship for the Disability and Industrial Society project

Disability in industrial Britain

By Kirsti Bohata, Alexandra Jones, Mike Mantin, Steven Thompson

Hardcover £25.00 / $36.95

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