The Chainmakers’ Daughter


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“Some make chains. Some wear them.” Rosie Wallace survives on three slices of bread a day. Scarred by flame and metal, she makes her life as her ancestors have: making chains for the rich chain master, Matthew Joshua. There is no hope for a better future. No hope even for a green vegetable on the table. Her life will be making chains, marrying Jack, the boy she loves, and babies every year. But when an assault by the chain master’s son threatens the very fabric of her tenuous existence, Rosie finds the courage and the reason to fight for her own survival and the lives of her family and neighbours. Set in the first decade of the 20th century The Chainmakers’ Daughter is a haunting portrayal of abject poverty, ever-present death, and modern-day slavery. The Chainmakers' Daughter is set in England, the Black Country from 1901 - 1910. Rosie is the eldest daughter of chainmakers, learning her trade at her mother’s side. Pay for women is poor, and despite working ten or twelve hours a day, starvation wages keep the chainmakers in abject poverty, while the chain masters reap the profit. Hearing that in London, agitator and socialist, Mary Macarthur, is lobbying parliament to end sweated labour, Rosie writes to her, begging her help in their desperate plight, but can one person unite the women chainmakers of Hawley Heath to strike for a living wage and defeat their rich and powerful chain master, who refuses to pay the legal wage? Can the white slaves of England defeat the chain master, or will Rosie's ill-considered liaison with the chain master's son lose her the man she loves and possibly end her life on the gallows? A Victorian/Edwardian political social drama, The Chainmakers' Daughter exposes the living conditions of working-class women and girl's in the early 1900s. Mary Macarthur, a socialist and the first woman to stand for parliament, founded the Anti-Sweating League, the National Federation of Women Workers, and was instrumental in getting the 1910 Wage Board Act and a legal minimum wage into law. It was a fight that took many years and culminated in the women chainmakers' strike of 1910, a strike that lasted two months. A family saga, this is the story of the fight of ordinary working women for a fair day's pay for a fair day's work that paved the pay for a national minimum wage and equality for women.