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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 October 2010
Amazon should look to separating this edition from the Penguin edition of Mayhew's studies because this is almost a totally different selection of Mayhew's writings with a better and more in depth introduction and potted biography of Mayhew by the editor, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. One of the main points that Douglas-Fairhurst makes is that Mayhew considered himself a reporter rather than a reformer or campaigner but what a reporter. Using language that resonates of the time, much of it verbatim transcripts of interviewees, Mayhew shines a dazzling light on the street life of Victorian London. Dickens and Thackeray were notable devotees of Mayhew's work and incorporated much of his studies into their own work.

I would strongly recommend anyone with even the slightest interest in the period to get this volume, all the more so because although there is some overlap with the Penguin edition, there is lots of "new" material in here (costermongers' cries for example) so that even if you already have that edition it is well worth getting this one as well.
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on 19 June 2014
A splendid book. It's very much a descriptive book of each of the facets of the characters you'd come across in 19th century London. From the deserving cripple to the shiftless beggar, Mayhew lists them all. It's a real eye-opener; the types of people we see in London today are not so far removed from their ancestors described in this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I found as illuminating as I did compelling.
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on 11 April 2013
I first read portions of Mayhew when at school. Now that I am retired I am revisiting his work. He presents a vivid and
fascinating picture of life amongst the poor in Victorian London, discussing the hustle and bustle of life and the hopes
and fears of vast numbers of the disadvantaged poor. His work recounts stories of trades and professions common
in his lieftime but no longer seen.
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on 27 December 2010
I heard snatches of this book on the radio and since my father (born in 1895) was a Londoner and certainly poor - I wanted to know more about how poor families survived. I find the book a good reference to the types of poor eg costermongers, water cress sellers etc. It is fascinating to see how the very poor and young survived against all odds - long before the state aid era. Contrast this with today - people who have never worked and live in relative comfort on state aid. Not to say that all in that category are undeserving, but one gets the feeling that life is made too easy these days! My dad used to tell stories of how he and his brothers collected horse droppings to sell as garden fertiliser. Also on Epson Downs selling "Accomodation" ie a folding toilet tent with a bucket and a spade shouting Penny a "Jimmy", twopence a "pup"! A good snap shot of the times in London of that era - for the poor working classes.
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on 4 January 2012
a first hand accounts of discussions with london's working and non working poor. utterly facinating and so far as I know unique, with accounts on long lost habits and jobs. i must admit that unlike other reviewers i did not come away from this booking respecting mayhew. there is a voyeuristic and judgemental element to the writing which is distastful to the modern reader. i sometimes wondered whether the accounts, whilst entertaining, were entirely true: they typically mix tales of poverty with a narrative celebrating the stoicism of the working poor (in mayhew's interviews they generally seem to accept, even express happiness, with their lot and certainly do not appear to want protective laws or help), or condemning the immoral or lazy. maybe i missed something - but mayhew did not emerge as a deliberate agent of reform, but rather as a preacher - in one remarkable passage he blames vagrancy on the existence of charitable lodging houses which in his eyes ended up helping only the underserving! nevertheless a fascinating read.
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on 31 December 2014
Mayhew's scrupulously objective written records mean you can 'hear' the voices, smell the streets and alleyways (recognisable by their names today) feel the zeitgeist of London 150 years ago.
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on 11 July 2014
This is a book I had always meant to read, but maybe having read so much about this subject I don't really think it has given me much new info. It is interesting though, and perhaps gives more insight in to speech of the period than the usual books on this subject.
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on 10 April 2014
It's very well converted for Kindle. He is a rarity - an honest journalist who listens. I hope people of all ages will read it. I had it as a hardback and now need it on the Kindle as my house is filled with books.
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on 17 March 2013
Having just read Terry Pratchett's "Dodger" I was interested to read about Henry Mayhew's book, written at the same time as Charles Dickens was writing about some of these characters in fiction.

Mayhew's bio-pics are a fascinating insight into life at that time in London and, if you enjoy your Dickens, its well worth a read.
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on 26 March 2013
We all think we know about life in Victorian times through Dickens and others, but this surprisingly readable account of real lives in early Victorian London is a real eye-opener.
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