A chimney sweep is a person whose job is cleaning the insides of chimneys. In the past, chimney sweeps often employed children to climb up into the chimney, and often treated them badly. Those chimney sweeps are the ones depicted in Victorian literature. Chimney sweeps are typified in Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist and in "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" by William Blake. The book series Mary Poppins, however, portrays another kind of chimney sweep: the good-natured fellow signalling the end of child labour. The Mary Poppins books were written by P.L. Travers and originally illustrated by Mary Shepard. The books were adapted in 1964 into a musical Disney film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.
The occupation of chimney sweep is considered to be one of the oldest in the world. Today, modern chimney sweeps have expanded the chimney sweeping industry to include venting for many types of heating appliances. Chimney sweeps are also called chimney sweepers.
* Chimney-sweeps and superstitions
In Britain chimney sweeps are believed to bring good luck and some people will even invite a chimney sweep to their wedding for this reason. In parts of Great Britain it is considered lucky for a bride to see a chimney sweep on her wedding day. Many modern British sweeps hire themselves out to attend weddings because of this tradition. It is also considered good luck to shake hands with a chimney sweep or to be blown a kiss by one, but the origin of these traditions are unknown.