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142 Strand: A Radical Address in Victorian London Hardcover – 9 Nov 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition edition (9 Nov. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070117370X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701173708
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.7 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 779,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Rivetingly entertaining" A book of the year, as chosen by An Wilson. -- An Wilson, The Observer.

"Anyone wanting to deepen their knowledge of London's intellectual
life ... will find her book indispensable" -- Spectator

"I long to be given Rosemary Ashton's 142 The Strand" -- Claire Tomalin, The Times

"[Ashton] draws a picture so vivid it is like a novel ... a real
page turner" -- Daily Mail

"[Ashton] is excellent, describing books and linking ideas with
panache." -- Sunday Telegraph

"closer than any recent historical study to capturing the spirit
of the age" -- New Statesman

"this is a portrait skilfully drawn in the round...brilliantly
captured." -- Sunday Times

"wonderfully researched and absorbing account"
-- Observer

A diffuse book, fascinating, capacious, repetitive
-- Michael Schmidt

Book Description

A fascinating 'microhistory' not just of an address, but of a whole social circle and creative period. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book deals with John Chapman, 19th century publisher of the Westmninster Review, a radical magazine. It provides a fascinating insight into a world and a time very different to our own. For all its shambolic nature, I prefer Britain as it is now!The bulk of this book deals with John Chapman's remarkable personal life. As well as a wife, with whom he did not get on, he had a live-in mistress. So, a Victorian polygamist, basically. Then a secretary joins the household, one Marian Evans. Previously, she had been in the social circle of wealthy ribbon manufacturer and philanthropist Charles Bray, up in Coventry. This gentleman had, in addition to his wife, a second lady, by whom he had a number of children. Now she was in the household of the Westminster Review publisher, down in London. John Chapman seems to have taken a shine to her, which alarmed the wife and the mistress. They decided that two women were enough for him, so poor Marian Evans had to leave. She eventually ran off(to Germany) with one of the magazine's regular contributers. Since this was done "without benefit of clergy", it caused a great scandal when the news got out. She also took to writing novels, using the pseudonym George Eliot

This book reveals a side of Victorian life that we do not normally see--the radical, independent-minded side, uncomnfortable with Christsianity, and determined to go its own way. (Another book offering a similar insight is Vol 1 of Bertrand Russel's Autobiography, which I also recommend.)

This book is also valuable for the insight into the oppressive nature of Anglican Christianity at this time. For example, you could not become a doctor, or a member of parliament, without being a church-going Chritstian. And they checked!
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jimboid1 on 20 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Beautifully written, Ashton doesn't miss one piece of information regarding the subject. She has written many other biographies -coleridge, and is an expert on George Elliot. Buy it!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Fascinating Examination of an Important Victorian Publisher 27 Feb. 2007
By Ronald H. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting book by Professor Rosemary Ashton, of University College London, one of the leading experts on Victorian literature, and particularly the impact and influence of German ideas on the Victorians. The title takes its origin from the address for the publisher John Chapman, truly an interesting and important figure of whom I had not previously been aware. Chapman was in addition to being a publisher, also a physician, general radical thinker, and editor of several publications, most significantly the "Westminister Review." The book focuses upon Chapman and his circle of authors and friends, who represent an amazing rich diversity of progressive (or at least interesting) thought. For example, making their appearances are: T.H. Huxley, George Eliott when she was Marian Evans and co-editor of the Review, Herbert Spencer, Carlyle, Dickens, John Stuart Mill (himself a past editor of the Review), Emerson, Marx and and Barbara Leigh Smith (a founder of Girton College at Cambridge).

The range of ideas promoted by this assortment of folks is diverse and somewhat amazing: divorce, married women's property rights, universal education, improved public health, the Reform Act of 1867, evolution, Comte's positivism, Strauss' controversial "Life of Jesus" and other advanced German Biblical scholarship, and Utilitarianism, to mention just a few of the topics Ashton discusses. Chapman not only published articles by many of these individuals in the Review, but also published and distributed their books, injecting this interesting stream of ideas into Victorian thinking. Ashton focuses upon Marian Evans, since she is probably the leading scholar on George Eliott and G.H. Lewes with outstanding books on both to her credit.

For anyone interested in Victorian intellectual history, this book is must reading. It is written with Ashton's usual perceptive insights and skillful analysis, and is supported by extensive notes and a fine bibliography. Undoubtedly this will become the definitive work on Chapman and his crucial role as a facilitator of Victorian thought. We owe a debt to Professor Ashton in making his notable contributions more widely known.
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