[Before the Industrial Revolution] the workers enjoyed a comfortable and peaceful existence… . Their standard of life was much better than that of the factory worker today.
F. Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)1
The most revolutionary social change which took place during the first half of the nineteenth century — a change creating problems which have not yet been solved — was the rapid growth of towns, and particularly of the industrial towns of the midlands and north of England.
The cause of this ...