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Daily Life in Victorian London : An Extraordinary Anthology (Victorian London Ebooks Book 4) [Kindle Edition]

Lee Jackson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This anthology has one simple goal: to give the reader a flavour of 'how life was lived' in Victorian London, through the words of the Victorians themselves. It is not a comprehensive study; but I have revisited an archive of ten years' reading and research — nineteenth century diaries, newspapers, magazines, memoirs, guidebooks — in an attempt to include as many diverse aspects of Victorian life as possible. There is, I must admit, a certain bias in my choice of material: I concentrate on the poor and middle-class. Queen Victoria is glimpsed at a distance, in Hyde Park; MPs and members of the aristocracy appear as the patrons of charities; but this is a book about the everyday.

Some of these excerpts make for rather grim reading: the graphic account of a botched back-street abortion; the plight of homeless children, abandoned by their parents; the fever-ridden slums of Jacob's Island. Crime is also to the fore: attempts at blackmail; the rise of the 'hooligan' in Lambeth; the vicious malice of the 'vitriol thrower'. Likewise, it is impossible to neglect the scourge of prostitution in the capital, albeit with one rare instance of a 'soiled dove' who 'made good'. I have, therefore, included a few gratuitous doses of quirky Victoriana, to leaven the mix: advice on keeping pet squirrels; the invention of the snail telegraph (the supposed power of 'escargotic vibration'); how to make tooth powder (with the obligatory drop of cocaine).

I also focus on street life. Hence you will find articles about the giant 'advertising vans' which blocked major thoroughfares; races between rival omnibus companies; the wall painters who engaged in 'guerilla advertising'; the delights of Victorian fast food (sheep's trotters, anyone?). This book, at its best, should provide a vicarious form of time travel. The reader will feel, I hope, that they have walked the streets of Victorian London and, having read the more intimate passages — how to remove bed-bugs; tips on wet-nursing; dire warnings against 'secret vice' — that they have also glimpsed behind closed doors. Some things herein may appear quaint — complaints against the immorality of the 'can-can'; disdain for women practising 'bloomerism' (ie. wearing trousers); the unlikely forfeits demanded by parlour games — but they all throw a revealing light on the distinctive mores of the time.

I hope, too, that a few things will surprise and astonish, to the extent that they seem almost unbelievable (although, rest assured, this work contains no fabrications). Have you ever heard of the enterprising showman who started his 'Jack the Ripper' chamber of horrors in Whitechapel, within weeks of the 1888 murders? Or the peculiar safeguards afforded by corsets? Or the bar-maids who worked in Underground stations? Or the first (and last) Mesmeric Hospital established in London?

It may seem presumptuous to call this an extraordinary anthology; yet it is the extraordinary details of daily life in the 'Great Metropolis' that continue to fascinate me. My only wish is that the reader may share my enthusiasm.

Lee Jackson

Also by this author:
'Dust, Mud, Soot & Soil : The Worst Jobs in Victorian London'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2227 KB
  • Print Length: 561 pages
  • Publisher: Victorian London Ebooks (2 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Z1KSNY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,102 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! 15 May 2011
By Annette
Format:Kindle Edition
A fascinating collection of little snapshots of everyday life in 19th century London. It's items like this that bring the lives of ordinary people vividly to life for those of us who would otherwise only read about them mediated through the writers of history books.

These pieces show both how different and how similar life then was to our own world. While an article from Cassell's Household Guide of 1880 shows how much our attitudes to bathing have changed in 130 years, an item from The Penny Illustrated Paper of 1871 bemoaning "this pest of can-canism" isn't so different from a 21st century letter to the Evening Standard complaining about the proliferation of lap-dancing clubs.

The book is well-presented on the Kindle. The active table of contents lists the items by subject, alphabetically - so The Can-Can is followed by Cars, Childhood Discipline and Christmas. A nice touch is a link at the top of the first page of each item that skips straight to the next item, allowing the reader to browse through the book easily.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Anthology 16 May 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I was highly tempted to write this review in the style of a Victorian letter, highly tempted, but was unable to come up with a good enough name for the internet - Circle of Information for Mankind just doesn't have the same ring to it, so I desisted.
So back, instead, to Mr. Jackson's wonderful book.
And wonderful it is. Many (if not most) reference books are tricky things, dry, creaky tomes that need to be waded through, and wade through you must to extract the information, even as your eyes blur, your head pounds and your whole being cries out for (yet) another cup of tea to aid you in your time of need.
'Daily Life in Victorian London' is not one of the aforementioned. Indeed, the author has created a reference book with a lightness of touch that makes the whole research process a total joy from beginning to end.
Taken from publications, letters, illustrations and photographs of the time, this book gives the reader a real flavour of Victorian London, from household life to life on the streets.
It is beautifully put together and a must for any fan or scholar. My favourite highlight (of which there are many) is the description of 'A Baby Show' it had me in tears of laughter, while other sections left me with suspiciously moist eyes.
As I am running out of different words for 'fabulous' and 'fascinating' and 'wonderful', I'll bring this to a close. Soon.
But first, a thank you to the author for sharing his vast font of knowledge on the era, and for all the wonderfully fabulously fascinating (there I go again) snippets of information that I can now casually throw out at dinner parties or while at the nearest drinking establishment, causing the assembled to gasp in wonderment.
You, Sir, are a Gentleman.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Fascinating 4 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is superbly compiled with some fascinating articles and tales of life on the streets in Victorian London; beware as some parts are very grim indeed. I did indeed find this to be an Extraordinary account and amazing VFM.

The Spire Chronicle
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Reference Work 11 May 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I downloaded this on a whim, but am glad that I did as it provides a treasure trove of Victorian social history from contemporary sources (e.g. Illustrated London News) in text and illustrations. This is well worth the modest download charge and the author has done all amateur historians (and Sherlock Holmes fans) a big service by making this material available. There is an active TOC which makes it easy to access all the material featured in the book. I have no hesitation in awarding this book five stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't hesitate - just buy it. 10 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I will not repeat all the good things said by other earlier reviewers, just buy this - you will be absolutely fascinated.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Changing the Habits of a Lifetime For 20 May 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I do not own a Kindle. I do not like the idea of a Kindle. I am an ex-bookseller and am wedded firmly to print. However I am fascinated by London's history, especially Victorian history. My pockets are not deep but my appetite for acquisition is insatiable.

I do own an I-Phone which now has many useful London related apps on it. I also spend a lot of my life on public transport.

I wanted to get hold of this book for its contents. With no print version available I was thus forced to modernise or go without and I am glad that I chose to do the former. I can now "leaf" through this treasure trove of a book on the tube or bus. For less than the cost of a double espresso I now own this work - amazing!

The format works very well indeed for the phone as the text is in brief but fascinating sections, easy to put down at an interchange. I can't imagine reading it at home on a phone when I have so many unread "proper" books but out and about it is perfect, a genuine e-page flicker.

Should you ever release a nice cloth-bound version of "Daily Life in Victorian Britain" on quality paper, I will certainly buy that too and enjoy the same text at home, in time honoured fashion. Until then, thank you for showing me the merits of an alien technology.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life not quite like we were taught at school 25 Sept. 2011
By Jude Faulkner TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is a fascinating read as it comprises short articles taken from the period around about 1820's to 1900 I guess. Provides a better view of London than I knew about from school. My view of prim and proper Victorians has changed now. I can now see why the missionaries and charities had to intercede to help so many Victorians! It seems that nothing has changed in some quarters, as reading about 'hooligans' from the era could relate to the London rioters of 2011! Very good read indeed, even for the non-history buffs among us.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a real inside look at so many aspects of daily life in Victorian London.
Published 14 days ago by alan128train
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good read, I enjoyed it.
Published 2 months ago by may Stevens
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very interesting book.
Published 5 months ago by Whatever
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartrending!
This reveals the heartrending conditions around the time of Dickens. You will simply not believe the poverty and deplorable lives some people lived that are described in this... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Gillian Fantazi
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing the past to life
I'm a history buff and thoroughly enjoyed this book. Eye witness accounts are not everyone's cup of tea - but they are mine. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Corinda
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought I would find this interesting...
And it was to a point but I found it pedestrian (fitting for the majority in the Victorian era) and hard to get though. There are scattered gems.
Published 9 months ago by christopher womack
4.0 out of 5 stars e-book
lots of different stories about Victorian London , very quickly delivered by amazon e books, at a very good price which the book had a very apt title , a nice little red,
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic and intriguing
Really enjoy this book esp as I am avidly reading the works of George Gissing. It's a great read and full of interest.
Published 17 months ago by Debralondon
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
I found this book pretty boring to read. It was somewhat informative but an extremely weary read. I think that it could have been written far better.
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a 'wader'
I call certain books waders because you sometimes have to wade through the bits you might not be interested in to find something that will blow your socks off. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dave Fennessy
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