The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London Hardcover – 1 Oct 2012
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
This is history much more interesting than Kings and Queens, even though royalty and the aristocracy do get a mention too.
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
Having said that, once you get into it, the book is detailed and informative. The author has obviously done a good deal of research and knows her Dickens. In many ways Victorian London seems to resemble the India I visited in 1978. The phrase, "the past is another country" comes to mind frequently. For example, I don't suppose that many Londoners eat eel or whelks now, and certainly oysters are no longer associated with poverty.
My criticism of the book is that if anything it goes into too much detail (the chapter on prostitutes is an example). That made me turn pages fairly quickly. This is a pity because the subject matter is very interesting.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's difficult to think of Victorian London without thinking of Charles Dickens, and Judith Flanders has chosen to combine the two by examining the social conditions of the capital... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Icy Sedgwick
I love to read about this era,and this book is by far the most readable enjoyable and detailed book on the subject I've ever read.Published 5 months ago by Sr Sawyer
After watching so may TV dramas and film (most based on Dickens novels) I wanted to read a modern research based book about the Victorian London Dickens would have know. Read morePublished 5 months ago by jeg Cumbria
Loved this as a readable and entertaining description of Victorian London. Great background information for one of my first year undergraduate History modules.Published 6 months ago by Smithstone
I ordered this for my daughter, she has only made limited use of it so far but has already found it quite useful.Published 9 months ago by Anthony.BT