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The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London [Hardcover]

Judith Flanders
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
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Book Description

1 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.
'Outstanding.' - Sunday Times
'The teeming, bustling, hand-to-mouth and often smelly facts of mid-19th century urban life have seldom been more vividly presented than in this book.' - Literary Review
'With infectious enthusiasm Judith Flanders dives into the sights, smells, sounds and grit of what was then the largest city the world had ever known: London.' - Sunday Telegraph

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848877951
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848877955
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 135,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Judith Flanders was born in London, England, in 1959. She moved to Montreal, Canada, when she was two, and spent her childhood there, apart from a year in Israel in 1972, where she signally failed to master Hebrew.

After university, Judith returned to London and began working as an editor for various publishing houses. After this 17-year misstep, she began to write and in 2001 her first book, A Circle of Sisters, the biography of four Victorian sisters, was published to great acclaim, and nominated for the Guardian First Book Award. In 2003, The Victorian House received widespread praise, and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards History Book of the Year. In 2006, Consuming Passions was published. Her book, The Invention of Murder, was shortlisted for the 2011 CWA Non-Fiction Dagger. Her most recent book, The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London, was published in 2012.

Judith also contributes articles, features and reviews for a number of newspapers and magazines. He home on the web can be found at http://www.judithflanders.co.uk/

Product Description

Review

The Victorian City by Judith Flanders is full of detail and colour about everyday life in Dickens's London, and leaves you with a sense not only of how hard life was then, but how strange. Even if you've read Dickens and the contemporary historians of the poor, there is still more to marvel at here. --Sebastian Faulks, Mail on Sunday Books of the Year

A quite extraordinary book, which I read with much enjoyment: an intoxicating blend of London, life and literature... I think it's Judith Flanders' best book yet, which is saying something. --Andrew Taylor

Meticulous and gripping... Flanders says that Dickens appealed to contemporaries because he gave them a voyage into the unknown: into parts of London they did not know and where they would not venture. She does something similar for us. The strangeness remains, but the voyage is unforgettable. --Independent


Outstanding --Sunday Times


The teeming, bustling, hand-to-mouth and often smelly facts of mid-19th century urban life have seldom been more vividly presented than in this book. --Literary Review


With infectious enthusiasm Judith Flanders dives into the sights, smells, sounds and grit of what was then the largest city the world had ever known: London --Sunday Telegraph



Flanders captures the variety and colour of 19th-century London, stirring admiration and indignation by turns. To lead us through the Victorian capital, through its hustle and sprawl, its dangers and entertainments, you couldn't hope for a better guide. --New Statesman



Recreates the textures of everyday life with an anthropologist's understanding of human behaviour alongside a storyteller's eye for character. --Daily Telegraph

About the Author

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.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Having looked at the Victorian house, Victorian crime and Victorian leisure in previous books, the author now turns her attention to the Victorian city. In particular, London during the time of Dickens', using his journalism and novels to illustrate her own book. Judith Flanders makes an important point that today the word 'Dickensian' often refers to squalor - such as the term 'Dickensian conditions' - whereas in his own time the author was more often seen as convivial and often humorous. As anyone will know who has read any biography of the great man, what Dickens was, more than anything, was an observer of his city and his people. In this book, Flanders attempts to create a picture of London during that time and to show the differences and similarilities with now.

One of the main impressions I came away with from the book is that London was much busier then than our present time - if that is possible! When the author recreates the working day, it showed that even in the middle of the night people were trudging around, either going to work or returning from it. Another major difference is that most people walked fairly long distances to get to and from places. In her section about the city itself, she covers all elements, from the methods of transport, accidents, commuting and even what the roads were surfaced in. She presents a place of immense noise and bustle, with street hawkers, markets, music and crowds, in which many of the inhabitants complained of never having any peace from the constant roar of the streets.

Other sections of the book look at how people lived, enjoyed themselves and the city at night.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An original take on social history 8 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book, by choosing as its primary viewpoint Charles Dickens' display of his intimate knowledge of Victorian London gives a well-coloured close-up of its subject, drawing the reader ingto all the capital's vibrant, noisy, smelly life. Above all, London was bursting with energy, and this is beautifully conveyed. My only criticism is that for my elderly eyes the print, especially of the footnotes, is rather small
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DICKENS' TOWN 11 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Judith Flanders has created a veritable plum pudding of facts and revelations. I pride myself on being knowledgeable about Charles Dickens and his times, but on almost every page there was a fact, a statistic, a revelation, to make me realise how much more I had to learn. One of your reviewers, quite rightly, confessed to needing to stop reading for a while to try to absorb some of the flood of material which fills each glorious page. I too felt this, and see it as a positive indication of the breadth and depth of the work.
Flanders has a pleasant style - neither a lecture nor dull research being regurgitated - and leads the reader in with titbits and startling facts,like the lamplighters of Victorian times shedding much needed light.
Having read countless biographies of Dickens over the years, as well as myself writing about him, I found the parallel stories of Dickens in London and London itself, seamlessly interwoven, painting pictures of London's sprawling and burgeoning community alongside Dickens and his world. It works brilliantly.

I would recommend this book to anybody who is a true Dickensian and/or has a thirst for further knowledge about the origins and development of the greatest city in the world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Victorian London to life 25 April 2013
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent and readable book which brings to life London in the time of Dickens. It covers in detail three broad topics - the City Wakes, Staying Alive, and Enjoying Life. The author has researched well and provides anecdote as well as facts - the facts, unsurprisingly often debunking anecdotal evidence. Many of the daily facts of life are obvious once you've been told, such as if the main mode of transport is horse (tens of thousands of them), there will be lots of horse muck which needs to be removed, feed to be brought in and stored, stabling, and carcasses to be disposed of - hence glue factories, slaughter houses, appalling smells and such like. And similar with regard to the human population (not the slaughter house bit, though prisons and executions are covered).
This is history much more interesting than Kings and Queens, even though royalty and the aristocracy do get a mention too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine for the everyday reader 1 Jan 2013
By docb
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book brings Victorian London to life in an imaginative way. Of course, adding "Dickens" to the title means that it should cover only a fairly restricted time period of Victorian London life and I think it strayed outside that on a couple of occasions. A well-researched book and particularly good for those who do not have access to some of the writings of Charles Booth, William Mayhew and Engels, which also describe Victorian cities and, in particular, London.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History came alive 5 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As an avid London lover - daughter lives 40 mins commute away and we are there often - I loved being able to pin point places that I know and am now able to go back to London and look for places that were and see what is in their place.
Loved how the history of the city came alive with the comparisons between the Dickens books and the real place.
A little puffed up in places but for London lovers and history people I'd recommend this as a read
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating details
Next time you think of complaining about life in the 21st century, read a few pages of this book. Judith Flanders has put together a really interesting and exhaustive collection of... Read more
Published 2 days ago by andrew hogg
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight
I have read many accounts of Victorian life but this one gets down into real detail. I read "Sketches by Boz" a couple of years ago and am now going back to read it again. Read more
Published 7 days ago by tango
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing
This is the best book I have read in a long while. Beautifully written and packed with information, every page is a delight. Read more
Published 7 days ago by S. J. Padfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Author has a depth of knowledge that is extrordinary
As an avid Dickens fan, I had read his complete works by age 11 I knew little of the man himself. Born a Londoner I am staggered at the effort Dickens put into knowing his London... Read more
Published 10 days ago by M. Taplin
3.0 out of 5 stars reasonable
This is an interesting book with a number of facts I did not know about but a knowledge of London would make it better.
Published 15 days ago by badger
4.0 out of 5 stars History at its best.
When i lived in Tunbridge Wells, you used to be able to pay a small fee to spend: A day at the Wells. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Julie Vanberkel
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read
So much is written about the lives of monarchy, aristocrats and politicians, and so little about ordinary folk.
This book does a splendid job in redressing the balance. Read more
Published 19 days ago by M. G. Moyes
3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not her best book
Having very much enjoyed the previous 2 Flanders' books I have bought, this was a huge disapointment. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. Brian R. Dougal
4.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Life
I bought this book whilst attending a course on Charles Dickens, it proved to be useful and is still referred to at times.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs M A Sinfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
A wonderful book concerning Victorian London. It is full of interesting and very informative facts and history, of this great city.
Published 3 months ago by Ghost
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