Published Oct 2012
The nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented transformation, and nowhere was this more apparent than on the streets of London. In only a few decades, London grew from a Regency town to the biggest city the world had ever seen, with more than 6.5 million people and railways, street-lighting and new buildings at every turn. In The Victorian House, Judith Flanders described in intimate detail what went on inside the nineteenth-century home. Now, in The Victorian City, she explores London’s outdoors in an extraordinary, revelatory portrait of everyday life on the streets. From the moment Charles Dickens, the century’s best-loved novelist and London’s greatest observer, arrived in the city in 1822, he obsessively walked its streets, recording its pleasures, curiosities and cruelties. Now, with him, Judith Flanders leads us through the markets, transport systems, sewers, rivers, slums, alleys, cemeteries, gin palaces, chop-houses and entertainment emporia of Dickens’ London, to reveal the Victorian capital in all its variety, vibrancy, and squalor. From the colourful cries of street-sellers to the uncomfortable reality of travel by omnibus, via the many uses for the body parts of dead horses or the unimaginably grueling working days of hawker children, no detail is too small, or too strange. No one who reads Judith Flanders’s The Victorian City will view London in the same light again.