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Victorian London: The Life of a City 1840-1870

Liza Picard

3 Reviews

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Life of London, London, Greater London, Prose: non-fiction, History, British & Irish history, Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Social & cultural history

From rag-gatherers to royalty, from fish knives to Freemasons: everyday life in Victorian London

Like her previous books, this book is the product of the author's passionate interest in the realities of everyday life - and the conditions in which most people lived - so often left out of history books. This period of mid Victorian London covers a huge span: Victoria's wedding and the place of the royals in popular esteem; how the very poor lived, the underworld, prostitution, crime, prisons and transportation; the public utilities - Bazalgette on sewers and road design, Chadwick on pollution and sanitation; private charities - Peabody, Burdett Coutts - and workhouses; new terraced housing and transport, trains, omnibuses and the Underground; furniture and decor; families and the position of women; the prosperous middle classes and their new shops, e.g. Peter Jones, Harrods; entertaining and servants, food and drink; unlimited liability and bankruptcy; the rich, the marriage market, taxes and anti-semitism; the Empire, recruitment and press-gangs. The period begins with the closing of the Fleet and Marshalsea prisons and ends with the first (steam-operated) Underground trains and the first Gilbert & Sullivan.

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Praise for Victorian London: The Life of a City 1840-1870

  • A highly readable account of nineteenth-century London... Picard's book is a mine of information told with great enthusiasm and passion. - EXPRESS (7/7/06)

  • This is a comprehensive history by anecdote, so the enlightening facts come thick and fast... Picard enforces the idea that history really is all around us. - TELEGRAPH (8/7/06)

  • Her survey of Victorian London is as enjoyably wide-ranging as her previous volumes, and her curiosity about apparent trivia resurrects the realities of the past more successfully than many more solemn works of social and political analysis do. - SUNDAY TIMES (30/7/06)

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Liza Picard

Liza Picard was born in 1927. She is the bestselling author an acclaimed series of books on the history of London: Elizabeth's London, Restoration London, Dr Johnson's London and Victorian London. Her most recent book, Chaucer's People, explores the Middle Ages through the lives of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales.

She read law at the London School of Economics and was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn, but did not practise. She worked for many years in the office of the Solicitor of the Inland Revenue before retiring to become a full-time author. She lives in London.

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