The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London

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Charles Dickens walked London’s streets when he couldn’t sleep, and then incorporated his observations into his fiction. In this well-researched work of Victorian history, Flanders quotes liberally from Dickens’ novels, but it is her skillful writing that makes this an exciting read.

Flanders takes a thematic approach, from the first chapter’s revelations that “the City” was on the move before dawn, to the final chapter’s exploration of prostitution. In one chapter, Flanders traces the history of London’s transportation, starting with those who walked miles to work, proceeding to horse-drawn vehicles (varied by class), then the railway system (which destroyed neighborhoods) and steamboats (which changed travel on the Thames). Another chapter explores the unsanitary conditions that turned the Thames into a veritable sewer and caused periodic epidemics. One chapter is devoted to the Duke of Wellington’s funeral procession, which became street theater for poor and rich alike.

Flanders also quotes from newspapers, other novelists, letters, and diaries of the time. Fifty pages of notes and twenty pages of bibliography follow the 424-page text—a text that never became dull for this reader. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the Victorian era.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 544 pages
Publisher Thomas Dunne Books
Publish Date 2014-Jul-15
ISBN 9781250040213 Buy this Book
Issue September 2014
Category History


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