“A great many very young girls grown into bold women before they had well ceased to be children.” is a quotation from The Amusements of the People (Part 2).
The Amusements of the People was an article, written by Charles Dickens, exploring popular theatre. It was first published in Dickens own weekly magazine Household Words on 30 March, 1850. This was followed up with a second article two weeks later, also called The Amusements of the People, about The Eagle theatre in the east-end of London. This quotation is from the second article.
Taken from the following paragraph of The Amusements of the People (Part 2):
The outer avenues and passages of the People’s Theatre bore abundant testimony to the fact of its being frequented by very dirty people. Within, the atmosphere was far from odoriferous. The place was crammed to excess, in all parts. Among the audience were a large number of boys and youths, and a great many very young girls grown into bold women before they had well ceased to be children. These last were the worst features of the whole crowd, and were more prominent there than in any other sort of public assembly that we know of, except at a public execution. There was no drink supplied, beyond the contents of the porter-can (magnified in its dimensions, perhaps), which may be usually seen traversing the galleries of the largest Theatres as well as the least, and which was here seen everywhere. Huge ham-sandwiches, piled on trays like deals in a timber-yard, were handed about for sale to the hungry; and there was no stint of oranges cakes, brandy-balls, or other similar refreshments. The Theatre was capacious, with a very large capable stage, well lighted, well appointed, and managed in a business-like, orderly manner in all respects; the performances had begun so early as a quarter past six, and had been then in progress for three-quarters of an hour.
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