Sunday, 30 December 2007
Rowe, Richard (1828–1879), was a Wesleyan minister, based for some time in the East End. You can already find his posthumously published Life in the London Streets (aka Picked up in the Streets) on the website but I've now added Episodes in an Obscure Life. The former is the better compilation, but the latter, despite being rather preachy, is an interesting read in places.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Google seems to refuse to follow through to index all chapters in Mysteries of London and Sweeney Todd ... it only indexes the first chapter. Possibly it thinks there's something suspicious going on, with all those files with similar names. So, forgive me, I'm going to try to speed the process up by putting some links here, and seeing if it helps ... here's Sweeney Todd ...
Chapter 1 - The Strange Customer at Sweeney
Chapter 2 - The Spectacle Maker's Daughter
Chapter 3 - The Dog and the Hat
Chapter 4 - The Pie-shop in Bell Yard
Chapter 5 - The Meeting in the Temple
Chapter 6 - The Conference, and the Fearful
Narration in the Garden
Chapter 7 - The Barber and the Lapidary
Chapter 8 - The Thieves' Home
Chapter 9 - Johanna at Home, and the
Chapter 10 - The Colonel and His Friend
Chapter 11 - The Stranger at Lovett's
Chapter 12 - The Resolution come to by Johanna
Chapter 13 - Johanna's Interview with Arabella
Wilmot, and the Advice
Chapter 14 - Tobias's Threat, and its
Chapter 15 - The Second Interview between
Johanna and the Colonel in the Temple Gardens
Chapter 16 - The Barber Makes Another Attempt
to Sell the String of Pearls
Chapter 17 - The Great Change in the Prospects
of Sweeney Todd
Chapter 18 - Tobias's Adventures During the
Absence of Sweeney Todd
Chapter 19 - The Strange Odour at St.
Chapter 20 - Sweeney Todd's Proceedings
Consequent upon the Departure of Tobias
Chapter 21 - The Misadventure of Tobias. The
Chapter 22 - The Mad-House Cell
Chapter 23 - The New Cook to Mrs. Lovett's
Gets Tired of his Situation
Chapter 24 - The Night at the Mad-House
Chapter 25 - Mr. Fogg's Story at the Mad-House
to Sweeney Todd
Chapter 26 - Colonel Jeffery Makes Another
Effort to Come at Sweeney Todd's Secret
Chapter 27 - Tobias Makes an Attempt to Escape
from the Mad-House
Chapter 28 - The Mad-House Yard, and Tobias's
Chapter 29 - The Consultation of Colonel
Jeffery with the Magistrate
Chapter 30 - Tobias's Escape from Mr. Fogg's
Chapter 31 - The Rapid Journey to London of
Chapter 32 - The Announcement in Sweeney
Todd's Window. Johanna Oakley's Adventure.
Chapter 33 - The Discoveries in the Vaults of
Chapter 34 - Johanna Alone. The
Secret. Mr. Todd's Suspicions. The Mysterious Letter
Chapter 35 - Sweeney Todd Commences Clearing
the Road to Retirement
Chapter 36 - The Last Batch of the Delicious
Chapter 37 - The Prisoner's Plan of Escape
from the Pies
Chapter 38 - Sweeney Todd Shaves a Good
Customer. The Arrest
Chapter 39 - The Conclusion.
and here's Mysteries of London
Chapter I - The House in Smithfield
Chapter II - The Mysteries of the Old House
Chapter III - The Trap-Door
Chapter IV - The Two Trees
Chapter V - Eligible Acquaintances
Chapter VI - Mrs. Arlington
Chapter VII - The Boudoir
Chapter VIII - The Conversation
Chapter IX - A City Man. Smithfield Scenes.
Chapter X - The Frail One's Narrative
Chapter XI - "The Servants' Arms"
Chapter XII - Bank Notes
Chapter XIII - The Hell
Chapter XIV - The Station-House
Chapter XV - The Police-Office
Chapter XVI - The Beginning of Misfortunes
Chapter XVII - A Den of Horrors
Chapter XVIII - The Boozing-Ken
Chapter XIX - Morning
Chapter XX - The Villa
Chapter XXI - Atrocity
Chapter XXII - A Woman's Mind
Chapter XXIII - The Old House in Smithfield Again
Chapter XXIV - Circumstantial Evidence
Chapter XXV - The Enchantress
Chapter XXVI - Newgate
Chapter XXVII - The Republican and the Resurrection Man
Chapter XXVIII - The Dungeon
Chapter XXIX - The Black Chamber
Chapter XXX - The 26th of November
Chapter XXXI - Explanations
Chapter XXXII - The Old Bailey
Chapter XXXIII - Another Day at the Old Bailey
Chapter XXXIV - The Lesson Interrupted
Chapter XXXV - Whitecross-street Prison
Chapter XXXVI - The Execution
Chapter XXXVII - The Lapse of Two Years
Chapter XXXVIII - The Visit
Chapter XXXIX - The Dream
Chapter XL - The Speculation. - An Unwelcome Meeting
Chapter XLI - Mr. Greenwood
Chapter XLII - The Dark House
Chapter XLIII - The Mummy
Chapter XLIV - The Body-Snatchers
Chapter XLV - The Fruitless Search
Chapter XLVI - Richard and Isabella
Chapter XLVII - Eliza Sydney
Chapter XLVIII - Mr. Greenwood's Visitors
Chapter XLIX - The Document
Chapter L - The Drugged Wine-Glass
Chapter LI - Diana and Eliza
Chapter LII - The Bed of Sickness
Chapter LIII - Accusations and Explanations
Chapter LIV - The Banker
Chapter LV - Miserimma!!!
Chapter LVI - The Road to Ruin
Chapter LVII - The Last Resource
Chapter LVIII - New Year's Day
Chapter LIX - The Royal Lovers
Chapter LX - Revelations
Chapter LXI - The "Boozing Ken" Once More
Chapter LXII - The Resurrection Man's History
Chapter LXIII - The Plot
Chapter LXIV - The Counterplot
Chapter LXV - The Wrongs and Crimes of the Poor
Chapter LXVI - The Result of Markham's Enterprise
Chapter LXVII - Scenes in Fashionable Life
Chapter LXVIII - The Election
Chapter LXIX - The "Whippers-In."
Chapter LXX - The Image, The Picture, and The Statue
Chapter LXXI - The House of Commons
Chapter LXXII - The Black Chamber Again
Chapter LXXIII - Captain Dapper and Sir Cherry Bounce
Chapter LXXIV - The Meeting
Chapter LXXV - The Crisis
Chapter LXXVI - Count Alteroni's Fifteen Thousand Pounds
Chapter LXXVII - A Woman's Secret
Chapter LXXVIII - Marian
Chapter LXXIX - The Bill. - A Father.
Chapter LXXX - The Revelation
Chapter LXXXI - The Mysterious Instructions
Chapter LXXXII - The Medical Man
Chapter LXXXIII - The Black Chamber Again
Chapter LXXXIV - The Second Examination - Count Alteroni.
Chapter LXXXV - A Friend in Need
Chapter LXXXVI - The Old Hag
Chapter LXXXVII - The Professor of Mesmerism
Chapter LXXXVIII - The Figurante
Chapter LXXXIX - The Mysterious Letter
Chapter XC - Markham's Occupations
Chapter XCI - The Tragedy
Chapter XCII - The Italian Valet
Chapter XCIII - News from Castelcicala
Chapter XCIV - The Home Office
Chapter XCV - The Forger and the Adulteress
Chapter XCVI - The Member of Parliament's Levee
Chapter XCVII - Another New Year's Day
Chapter XCVIII - Dark Plots and Schemes
Chapter XCIX - The Buffer's History
Chapter C - The Mysteries of the Ground-Floor Rooms
Chapter CI - The Widow
Chapter CII - The Reverend Visitor
Chapter CIII - Hopes and Fears
Chapter CIV - Female Courage
Chapter CV - The Combat
Chapter CVI - The Grave-Digger
Chapter CVII - A Discovery
Chapter CVIII - The Exhumation
Chapter CIX - The Stock-Broker
Chapter CX - The Effects of a Trance
Chapter CXI - A Scene at Mr. Chichester's House
Chapter CXII - Viola
Chapter CXIII - The Lovers
Chapter CXIV - The Contents of the Packet
Chapter CXV - The Treasure. - A New Idea
Chapter CXVI - The Rattlesnake's History
Chapter CXVII - The Rattlesnake
Chapter CXVIII - The Two Maidens
Chapter CXIX - Poor Ellen!
Chapter CXX - The Father and Daughter
Chapter CXXI - His Child!
Chapter CXXII - A Change of Fortune
Chapter CXXIII - Aristocratic Morals
Chapter CXXIV - The Intrigues of a Demirep
Chapter CXXV - The Reconciliation
Chapter CXXVI - The Rector of Saint David's
Chapter CXXVII - Blandishments
Chapter CXXVIII - Temptation
Chapter CXXIX - The Fall
Friday, 7 December 2007
I've recently seen a preview of Tim Burton's new version of Sweeney Todd, the Sondheim musical. Great performances all round ... not as over-the-top as I feared.
Anyway, the reason for an invitation to the preview (apart all my showbiz connections, of course - as if!) is that I'm writing a piece on the historicity of Todd (once assumed to have been based on a real event, now widely believed to be entirely fictional).
The story has had many manifestations, but it seems without doubt that the first version is the 1846/47 penny dreadful entitled 'The String of Pearls', in which the murderous barber is the chief villian.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
There are bound to be many others, I suspect ... if anyone has any tips, let me know!
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
John Adcock's blog shines a wondrous light onto the Victorian penny dreadful, amongst other things, although the pages he puts up simply leave one wanting to read more! The man is clearly an expert on his subject, and it's great to see people publishing stuff on the web simply for the love of their field. And any illustration entitled "The Feast of Death" is worth your time, no?
Friday, 12 October 2007
You probably know this already, but Millais is at the Tate. A whole exhibition, mind you, devoted to the Pre-Raphaelite who gave us the likes of 'Ophelia' and 'Bubbles'. Also includes, a little oddly, events such as a 'Victorian Evening' of popular music (one suspects not music hall sing-a-longs) in Smith Square.
Thursday, 27 September 2007
Research on Victorian crime brings me to poisoning, a topic I know little about. An excellent academic article, however, is available for free, courtesy of the Wellcome Trust, on the Arsenic Act of 1851, which unfortunately did little to stop a string of Victorian arsenic-ists throughout the century ... click here for a famous example.
It's been a while since the blog was updated, but real life unfortunately takes priority. However, I have been going through the archives of the Illustrated London News online, and adding occasional links to my website. I've already mentioned the Albert Palace (see below) and now I've found a picture of the so-called floating swimming baths that was moored by Charing Cross in the 1870s. I've come across brief references to it before, but fascinating to see it and get a more detailed explanation of what it was!
Monday, 23 July 2007
Saturday, 14 July 2007
Another great forgotten building of London. Located on the south-east side of Battersea Park, it was a relatively short-lived exhibition building, on the lines of the Alexandra Palace, "A handsome glass structure comprising large halls for concerts and general entertainments.". It gets a brief mention here. This site implies the building was re-assembled from the 1872 Dublin Exhibition (as the Alexandra was from the 1862 Exhibition). It now has its own page on the site, with links to the ILN Picture Library.
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Occasionally a random search retrieves an invaluable site which I wish I'd had access to in the past. The site in question is a detailed, free, online book discoursing on London's hospital system, courtesy of one Geoffrey Rivett - excellent!
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
A reader asks us to mention http://www.reminiscene.co.uk/, a collection of cartes and postcards, set up with the express intention of uniting the former deceased Victorians with their descendants. If, like me, you find old photographs endlessly fascinating, it's worth a browse.
Patrick Leary on the VICTORIA list alerts readers to The Database of Mid-Victorian wood-engraved Illustration. It's a great piece of digital preservation - almost 900 images from c.1862 culled from popular journals, including Cornhill Magazine, Good Words, Illustrated London News, Leisure Hour, London Society, Once a Week, many by famous artists ... try it out for yourself.
Saturday, 23 June 2007
One of the peculiarities of writing historical fiction is getting into your characters' underwear. One doesn't generally need to go there too often, of course, but one likes to be accurate. I recently came across this piece in the Times "1857 anniversary supplement" which features modern journalists trying on Victorian garb. I particularly like the line "A strange and indecent airiness swirls about my bloomered lower half", although I suspect, from the description of crotchless leg-covering undergarments, the items in question are "drawers", whereas 1850s "bloomers" were Mrs. Bloomer's "rational dress" - ie. a form of female trouser. Further mooching round the web led me to this site, The Ladies Treasury, which I think is the most practical guide I've come across. For the Victorian opinion of ladies in Mrs. Bloomer's trousers (as opposed to drawers, which also had their critics, if I recall correctly), see here ... not a good idea, apparently ...
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
I must confess that I'm not that fond of organised walks, preferring to ramble through London at random. Nonetheless, I was impressed recently by the breadth of walks listed on the London Footprints site. I'd also like to mention the peculiar London Adventure who provide a fascinating and recherché list of subjects! The latter, however, is almost more of a club, which (yes, you guessed it, dear reader) I have never attended ... email Mr. Granger-Taylor if you would like to participate. ... email@example.com ... the site seems a little out of date ... their 2007 programme is mentioned here
Although I like to explore Victorian London's more obscure quarters on this blog, I've just recalled Dr. Russell Potter's excellent page of tit-bits on the Crystal Palace, which are well-worth a visit. What caught my eye most was a picture of the "Talking Telegraph" whose description I'd come across in the Illustrated London News, of which Dr. Potter provides a picture (where is it now, I wonder? I must make discreet inquiries!). Talking of which, readers may wish to note that the Illustrated London News library is online - not every picture, as yet, but still a good deal of interesting Victoriana.
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
Another site for the topography list, London Remembers, as spotted by www.londonist.com ... a guide to obscure London plaques, dedications, memorials etc., going way beyond the call of duty with interactive map and lots of historical detail, including obscure Victoriana. A random browse finds, for instance, the plaque marking the location of the Queen's Theatre. My only criticism is that it seems a little slow ... but worth the wait!
Thursday, 3 May 2007
Digitisation is a bit on the back-burner at the Victorian Dictionary at the moment; however, that said, you can find the start of Richard Rowe's "Episodes in an Obscure Life" ... a Mayhew-esque study of the poor East End by a local clergyman (I think a fictionalised version of his own life, but I may be wrong) ... the first chapters are here ... (1-2) (3) (4).
Astute readers may have noticed a recent upsurge in my interest in mesmerists. This is because the second Sarah Tanner novel will feature mesmerism (envisaged, I hasten to add, before I came across this - d'oh! but never mind, we press on regardless ... any other forthcoming novels featuring mesmerists, I don't want to hear about it) and it's a fascinating subject to research. One great source is Jane Welsh Carlyle's brush with a mesmerist. I was impressed to find her letters online (must read all of them when I have the chance) ... here's the one in question:-
To John Welsh, Esq., Liverpool.
Chelsea : Dec. 13, 1847.
My dearest Uncle, - I write to you de profundis, that is to say, from the depths of my tub-chair, into which I have migrated within the last two hours, out of the still lower depths of my gigantic red bed, which has held me all this week, a victim to the 'inclemency of the season'! Oh, uncle of my affections, such a season! Did you ever feel the like of it? Already solid ice in one's water jug! 'poor Gardiners all froz out,' and Captain Sterling going at large in a dress of skins, the same that he wore in Canada! I tried to make head against it by force of volition - kept off the fire as if I had been still at 'Miss Hall's,' where it was a fine of sixpence to touch the hearthrug, and walked, walked, on Carlyle's pernicious counsel (always for me, at least) to 'take the bull by the horns,' instead of following Darwin's more sensible maxim, 'in matters of health always consult your sensations.' And so, 'by working late and early, I'm come to what ye see'! in a tub-chair - a little live bundle of flannel shawls and dressing-gowns, with little or no strength to speak of, having coughed myself all to fiddle-strings in the course of the week, and 'in a dibble of a temper,' if I had only anybody to vent it on! Nevertheless, I am sure 'I have now got the turn,' for I feel what Carlyle would call 'a wholesome desire to smoke'! which cannot be gratified, as C. is dining with Darwin; but the tendency indicates a return to my normal state of health.
The next best thing I can think of is to write to thee; beside one's bedroom fire, in a tub-chair, the family affections bloom up so strong in one! Moreover, I have just been reading for the first time Harriet Martineau's outpourings in the 'Athenæum, and 'that minds me,' as my Helen says, that you wished to know if I too had gone into this devilish thing. Catch me! What I think about it were not easy to say, but one thing I am very sure of, that the less one has to do with it the better; and that it is all of one family with witchcraft, demoniacal possession - is, in fact, the selfsame principle presenting itself under new scientific forms, and under a polite name. To deny that there is such a thing as animal magnetism, and that it actually does produce many of the phenomena here recorded, is idle; nor do I find much of this, which seems wonderful because we think of it for the first time, a whit more wonderful than those common instances of it, which never struck us with surprise merely because we have been used to see them all our lives. Everybody, for instance, has seen children thrown almost into convulsions by someone going through the motions of tickling them! Nay, one has known a sensitive uncle shrink his head between his shoulders at the first pointing of a finger towards his neck!
Does not a man physically tremble under the mere look of a wild beast or fellow-man that is stronger than himself? Does not a woman redden all over when she feels her lover's eyes on her? How then should one doubt the mysterious power of one individual over another? Or what is there more surprising in being made rigid than in being made red? in falling into sleep, than in falling into convulsions? in following somebody across a room, than in trembling before him from head to foot? I perfectly believe, then, in the power of magnetism to throw people into all sorts of unnatural states of body; could have believed so far without the evidence of my senses, and have the evidence of my senses for it also.
I saw Miss Bölte magnetised one evening at Mrs. Buller's by a distinguished magnetiser, who could not sound his h's, and who maintained, nevertheless, that mesmerism 'consisted in moral and intellectual superiority.' In a quarter of an hour, by gazing with his dark animal eyes into hers, and simply holding one of her hands, while his other rested on her head, he had made her into the image of death; no marble was ever colder, paler, or more motionless, and her face had that peculiarly beautiful expression which Miss Martineau speaks of, never seen but in a dead face, or a mesmerised one. Then he played cantrups with her arm and leg, and left them stretched out for an hour in an attitude which no awake person could have preserved for three minutes. I touched them, and they felt horrid - stiff as iron, I could not bend them down with all my force. They pricked her hand with the point of a penknife, she felt nothing. And now comes the strangest part of my story. The man, who regarded Carlyle and me as Philistines, said, 'Now are you convinced?' 'Yes, said Carlyle, there is no possibility of doubting but that you have stiffened all poor little Miss Bölte there into something very awful.' Yes, said I pertly, but then she wished to be magnetised; what I doubt is, whether anyone could be reduced to that state without the consent of their own volition. I should like for instance to see anyone magnetise me!' 'You think I could not?' said the man with a look of ineffable disdain. 'Yes,' said I,' I defy you?' 'Will you give me your hand, Miss?' 'Oh, by all means;' and I gave him my hand with the most perfect confidence in my force of volition, and a smile of contempt. He held it in one of his, and with the other made what Harriet Martineau calls some 'passes' over it, as if he were darting something from his finger ends. I looked him defiantly in the face, as much as to say, 'You must learn to sound your h's, sir, before you can produce any effect on a woman like me!' And whilst this or some similar thought was passing through my head - flash there went over me, from head to foot, something precisely like what I once experienced from taking hold of a galvanic ball, only not nearly so violent. I had presence of mind to keep looking him in the face, as if I had felt nothing; and presently he flung away my hand with a provoked look, saying, 'I believe you would be a very difficult subject, but nevertheless, if I had time given me, I am sure I could mesmerise you; at least, I never failed with anyone as yet.'
Now, if this destroyed for me my theory of the need of a consenting will, it as signally destroyed his of moral and intellectual superiority; for that man was superior to me in nothing but animal strength, as I am a living woman! I could even hinder him from perceiving that he had mesmerised me, by my moral and intellectual superiority! Of the clairvoyance I have witnessed nothing; but one knows that people with a diseased or violently excited state of nerves can see more than their neighbours. When my insane friend was in this house he said many things on the strength of his insanity which in a mesmerised person would have been quoted as miracles of clairvoyance.
Of course a vast deal of what one hears is humbug. This girl of Harriet's seems half diseased, half make-believing. I think it a horrible blasphemy they are there perpetrating, in exploiting that poor girl for their idle purposes of curiosity! In fact, I quite agree with the girl, that, had this Mrs. Winyard lived in an earlier age of the world, she would have been burned for a witch, and deserved it better than many that were; since her poking into these mysteries of nature is not the result of superstitious ignorance, but of educated self-conceit.
In fact, with all this amount of belief in the results of animal magnetism, I regard it as a damnable sort of tempting of Providence, which I, as one solitary individual, will henceforth stand entirely aloof from.
And now, having given you my views at great length, I will return to my bed and compose my mind. Love to all; thanks to Helen. With tremendous kisses,
Your devoted niece,
That wretched little Babbie does not write because I owe her a letter. A letter from her would have been some comfort in these dreary days of sickness; but since she has not bestowed it, I owe her the less thanks.
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
Just back from signing a few copies of A Most Dangerous Woman, second signing of the week, and it occurs to me that I should really give a big vote of thanks to two bookshops who've supported my work over the last few years. First is Heffers in Cambridge, whose Richard Reynolds organises the annual "Bodies in the Bookshop" get-together and sundry other "criminal" events, and the second is the signed first-edition specialists Goldsboro Books, run by Dave and Daniel, situated in the bookselling alley that is Cecil Court (which coincidentally, honestly, is the location for a seedy book-selling racket in the my first novel, London Dust ... !). Both shops are marvellous and visitors in Cambridge and London respectively should seek them out.
Friday, 6 April 2007
A Most Dangerous Woman
Publication week for my fifth novel ... The book is called "A Most Dangerous Woman", and introduces Sarah Tanner, a "lady detective" (of sorts) who will appear in an ongoing series, set in 1850s London. For more about the book, see here.
A selection of quotes from John Fisher Murray's The Physiology of London in Bentley's Miscellany, 1844, have been added to the web site. Includes comments on angling ("On a fine, warm day in September, we have counted in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, no less than two hundred and eighty-four anglers, large, small, and intermediate, including gentlemen, chimney-sweepers, military officers, blackguard boys, in short, every gradation of the indefinitely graduated scale of metropolitan social life, was here represented"), child poverty ("I have seen little children, fat enough for the spit, wrapped in woolpacks of fleecy hosiery, seated in their little carriages, drawn by goats, careering over the sward of Hyde Park; and at the same moment, crawling from the hollow trunks of old trees, where they had found refuge for the night, other children, their nakedness hardly concealed by a few greasy rags flapping against the mottled limbs of the creatures, heirs of shame and sorrow, and heritors of misery and its necessary crime." --- goats? was this a commonplace sight!?), a visceral description of the jobbing knacker ("The pole-axe is driven at one blow through the frontal bone of the expiring animal ;a willow wand, finger thick, is pushed into the hole, and twisted about in the brain pan with great dexterity ; the animal is fearfully convulsed, writhing in the most intense agony - the mob is quite in raptures at every kick of one brute and twist of the other - fainter and fainter become the death struggles of Dobbin - another turn or two, as a finisher - he is dead.") and various others (see Bibliography under "Bentley's Miscellany" in Journals).
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
Tuesday, 27 March 2007
More from W.O'Daniel's tourist chronicle of an American in London ... find out about river-steamers ("The English river Steamboats, like London, its houses, streets and everything in or pertaining to London, are dirty coal-smoked crafts. "), a nice perspective on the Thames Tunnel ("Considerable value is attached to anything bought in the Thames Tunnel, and almost every article sold there, even the cakes and confectionary, has some picture or sentence concerning the work"), English hotels ("The American definition of a hotel is a building covering several acres of ground, in height, any number of stories above six. The interior of which is arranged and conducted with every consideration for the comfort and convenience of guests . . . The English definition is as contrary to this as it is possible to imagine"), and the funeral customs of the day ("Of all cold, formal, uncharitable, and un-christian-like sights to be seen in London, a funeral is certainly the greatest ...")
Thursday, 22 March 2007
A fun page for the website, pending a full digitisation of Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor (a long-cherished plan, but not likely to appear in the imminent future) ... a large selection of the street characters from said masterpiece, on one page for your delectation ... click here
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Books by foreign visitors often are the best reports of London life, as they tend to remark on things native Londoners would have taken for granted. Take this from W. O'Daniel, an American unimpressed by 1850s London streets (whose book I recently acquired ... more excerpts may follow):- "Judge then my disappointment on entering London to see no signs of that opulence so much talked of abroad; wherever I turn I am presented with a gloomy solemnity in the houses, streets and the inhabitants; none of that beautiful gilding which makes a principal ornament in Chinese architecture. The streets of Nankin are sometimes strewed with goldleaf: very different are those of London; in the midst of their pavements a great lazy puddle moves muddily along; heavy laden machines with wheels of unwieldy thickness crowd up every passage; so that a stranger instead of finding time for observation is often happy if he has time to escape from being crushed to pieces. The side-walks are exceedingly low and very narrow. Oxford, Regent, Cannon and a few other streets are the only exceptions. I have frequently seen brewers' teams and others come within one foot of the store windows, and have been obliged to jump into a store door to escape being struck. To walk two or three abreast in the city is perfectly impossible. In very few streets is there any protection to the curb and consequently the hubs of the wheels, especially when passing other teams, extends several inches over the side-walk. "
Friday, 16 March 2007
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
Thursday, 8 March 2007
Further to the post below, another Mayhew letter (no.60), this time on carpenters and joiners.
"The carpenters and joiners that work for the low speculating builders are, generally speaking, quite a different class of men to those who are in "society." As a rule, to which, of course, there are many exceptions, they are men of dissipated habits. What little they get I am assured is spent in beer or gin, and they have seldom a second suit to their backs. They are generally to be seen on a Sunday lounging about the suburbs of London with their working clothes on, and their rules sticking from their side pockets - the only difference in their attire being, perhaps, that they have a clean shirt and a clean pair of shoes."
Read it in full here.
Tuesday, 27 February 2007
The Victorian dust-heap has long been of interest to scholars through it's literary place in Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend. We are now very keen in recycling as a society, of course, and the Victorian system of rubbish-sifting seems very "green" to modern readers, albeit tainted by the poverty-stricken lives of the scavengers involved. These days, of course, we outsource some of our scavenge-able waste to third-world countries, where they can do our scavenging/recycling for us, in conditions not dissimilar to those described herein, in an 1850s piece from Household Words, to which I've added other links on the subject.
Thursday, 22 February 2007
Saturday, 17 February 2007
Sunday, 11 February 2007
One of the ongoing efforts on the site is adding Mayhew's Letters to the Morning Chronicle - which were, in effect, the first draft of London Labour and the London Poor, his ground-breaking study of the working classes. Heavy on statistics and numbers, as well as amazing interviews with ordinary working people, Mayhew is hard to transcribe - which perhaps explains why only one cumbersome etext exists online for London Labour, at the Bolles Collection. Nonetheless, I am doing my bit with the Letters (essays, in actual fact) - here's number 59 ... detailing, in large part, how the occupation of sawyer was made redundant by the introduction of the steam-powered saw-mill.
Saturday, 10 February 2007
Finally, word arrives of my novels making their appearance in France, in April, courtesy of Editions 10/18 "Grands Detectives" series ... A Metropolitan Murder becomes Le Cadavre du Métropolitain and The Welfare of the Dead becomes Les bienfaits de la mort! There's something about the French language that makes everything sound classy ... even the publicity flyer "Pour Lee Jackson, Big Ben sonne toujours a l'heure Victorienne" ... merveilleux!
Friday, 9 February 2007
Following a catastrophic computer failure here at http://www.victorianlondon.org, I'm afraid newsletter subscription details since the 10th September 2006 have been lost! Fortunately the site is wholly unaffected. If you have subscribed, unsubscribed or changed address from the email newsletter, in the last six months, then please contact me again ... sorry folks!
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Friday, 2 February 2007
Thursday, 1 February 2007
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
A reader inquires whether I can supply a print copy of the 1895 Reynolds Map of London. The short answer is no; but anyone on the look-out for print maps of Victorian London should try
1. www.abebooks.com ... search under "London" and "Map" or "atlas" in the title and limit years ... this will find lots of Victorian London street maps (often rather expensive, as some are collectors items)
2. www.motco.com sell print reproductions of sections of the incredible 1862 Stanford map.
3. The LSE Archive sell print reproductions of sections of the 1898-9 Booth Poverty Maps.
4. An extensive 1888 Bacon map has been reprinted in book form.
5. www.oldhousebooks.co.uk also sell a reprint of an 1840s map, and Baedecker guides from the end of the century.
I'd be interested to know of other reprints, if anyone has come across them.
Looking into the Holborn Casino again, I stumble across another instance of men appearing as women in Victorian night-spots (see here) ... the defence when prosecuted was invariably that it was done "for a wager" or "for a lark". Women dressing as men seems to have been a little rarer, but not unheard of. The general response in court seems to have been as much wry amusement and simple confusion, as anything else. For fictional treatment, of course, see Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet.
Monday, 29 January 2007
Saturday, 27 January 2007
A reader inquires about the location of the Holborn Casino, an infamous dance-hall/night-club of the 1860s/1870s which features in my third novel, The Welfare of the Dead. It was replaced by the Holborn Restaurant and was located in the area opposite today's Holborn tube station. The map attached shows Holborn in 1899 ... Kingsway was not yet built, with slums still around Great Wild Street and Clare Market in the south. Also a lost theatre, the Jodrell; two lost music halls, the Royal and the seemingly tiny Middlesex. Plus, if you look closely, an intimation of the British Museum Station on the new central line, which would appear in mid 1900. For the rest of the Pocket Map of London (very good on theatres) see my site.
Wednesday, 24 January 2007
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Sunday, 21 January 2007
Saturday, 20 January 2007
Victorian enthusiasts may be interested in this lecture series which provides an introduction to various architects who most influenced the modern capital. In particular, Charles Barry and George Gilbert Scott are included. I may well attend the latter - I'm a great admirer of his work, as I live in sight of one of Scott's great achievements, trifling in comparison to St. Pancras, but stunningly beautiful.
Friday, 19 January 2007
Cruikshank's Comic Almanack includes, amongst a lot of Victorian humorous prose (which doesn't generally seem very funny today) a cartoon for each month of the year, which I do tend to find fascinating ... not so much for their humour as the marvellous detail. My favourite for humour is, however, November 1838's 'Guys in Council', presaging Larson's "Far Side" et al. To browse all the months from 1835-1838, see the page I've created, as promised below.
Thursday, 18 January 2007
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
A site after my own heart is MAPCO and, of course, the London section. I've just noticed that there's three new Victorian maps on there, since I last looked, and have added them to my own list. These include a beautifully detailed map of all parish boundaries in 1877 - great stuff!
Tuesday, 16 January 2007
Just a quick note to say that the audio cassette version of The Last Pleasure Garden is now available. You can order the cassettes or listen to a snippet online. I'm told that digital audio/mp3 versions of my books (and others by the same publisher) will be released in due course but, until then, if you want to hear me on the bus, drop your Ipod and retrieve your 1980s Walkman from the cupboard. [well, I still have mine ...]
Monday, 15 January 2007
The premier site for these fascinating calling-cards used by middle and upper class Victorians is here, but my friend Ken Page has graciously donated 13 digitised cartes of his own to the Victorian Dictionary. Enjoy!
Sunday, 14 January 2007
A quick note to say that I will be 'appearing' at Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge (UK) as part of their Crime through Time evening on February 22nd 2007. It's an annual event (there is a parallel general crime night 'Bodies in the Bookshop' in the summer) where 'historical crime' writers gather, chat and mingle with anyone who turns up. There's normally two dozen writers there, often overwhelming the public, signing books and talking shop. I fear, in fact, that the authors enjoy it more than anyone else ... but do come along!
Saturday, 13 January 2007
A teaser for forthcoming pics on www.victorianlondon.org ... a complete set of the 'months' in the great cartoonist's Almanack, 1835-38, and some other selections. What I love about Cruikshank is the level of painterly detail that goes into every cartoon. Above is April 1835 (on the theme of April showers) - note the "Umbrella Depot" ... certainly Victorian shops were commonly called "Warehouses" (eg. "Jay's Mourning Warehouse") and I suspect "Depot" was commonplace too.
Friday, 12 January 2007
Thursday, 11 January 2007
A reader directs me to an interesting anthology of Dickens's writing on France and the French.
"Dickens on France brings together short stories, extracts from novels and travel writing. Among its journalistic highlights are accounts of a train journey from London to Paris, a rough Channel crossing, the pleasures of Boulogne, and Parisian life in the 1850s and 1860s. Extracts from the travelogue Pictures from Italy take us by coach from Paris to Marseille. The selected short stories include “His Boots”, a section of “Mrs Lirriper’s Legacy” and “The Boy at Mugby”, and there are extracts from A Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Nicholas Nickleby, and Our Mutual Friend."
Wednesday, 10 January 2007
Mystic London by Charles Maurice Davies (1828-1910) - a bizarre study of London life, with a good deal on spiritualism (viewed with a mixture of skepticism and interest) but also, for example, covering emigration to Canada, a lady mesmerist, a visit to the home of a murderer and much more. Also the author of 'Unorthodox London: Or, Phases of Religious Life in the Metropolis'. According to the DNB Davies was a priest who abandoned holy orders in the 1880s.
William Powell Frith : Painting the Victorian Age (until 4 March 2007)
An exhibition of the great painter at the Guildhall Art Gallery.