Book picks similar to
London Clubland: A Cultural History of Gender and Class in Late Victorian Britain by Amy Milne-Smith
Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870
Liza Picard - 2005
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.
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
Hallie Rubenhold - 2019
They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that ‘the Ripper’ preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.
Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners
Therese Oneill - 2016
(Why? Shush, dear. A lady doesn't question.) UNMENTIONABLE is your hilarious, illustrated, scandalously honest (yet never crass) guide to the secrets of Victorian womanhood, giving you detailed advice on: ~ What to wear ~ Where to relieve yourself ~ How to conceal your loathsome addiction to menstruating ~ What to expect on your wedding night ~ How to be the perfect Victorian wife ~ Why masturbating will kill you ~ And moreIrresistibly charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and featuring nearly 200 images from Victorian publications, UNMENTIONABLE will inspire a whole new level of respect for Elizabeth Bennett, Scarlet O'Hara, Jane Eyre, and all of our great, great grandmothers. (And it just might leave you feeling ecstatically grateful to live in an age of pants, super absorbency tampons, epidurals, anti-depressants, and not-dying-of-the-syphilis-your-husband-brought-home.)
Jane Austen's England
Roy A. Adkins - 2013
Jane Austen’s England explores the customs and culture of the real England of her everyday existence depicted in her classic novels as well as those by Byron, Keats, and Shelley. Drawing upon a rich array of contemporary sources, including many previously unpublished manuscripts, diaries, and personal letters, Roy and Lesley Adkins vividly portray the daily lives of ordinary people, discussing topics as diverse as birth, marriage, religion, sexual practices, hygiene, highwaymen, and superstitions.From chores like fetching water to healing with medicinal leeches, from selling wives in the marketplace to buying smuggled gin, from the hardships faced by young boys and girls in the mines to the familiar sight of corpses swinging on gibbets, Jane Austen’s England offers an authoritative and gripping account that is sometimes humorous, often shocking, but always entertaining.
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
Kate Summerscale - 2008
In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land.At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking, as Kate Summerscale relates in her scintillating new book, that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher. Whicher quickly believed the unbelievable—that someone within the family was responsible for the murder of young Saville Kent. Without sufficient evidence or a confession, though, his case was circumstantial and he returned to London a broken man. Though he would be vindicated five years later, the real legacy of Jonathan Whicher lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, knowing, and all-seeing detective that we know and love today…from the cryptic Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of nonfiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.
For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink
Sarah Rose - 2009
In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China - territory forbidden to foreigners - to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea. For centuries, China had been the world's sole tea manufacturer. Britain purchased this fuel for its Empire by trading opium to the Chinese - a poisonous relationship Britain fought two destructive wars to sustain. The East India Company had profited lavishly as the middleman, but now it was sinking, having lost its monopoly to trade tea. Its salvation, it thought, was to establish its own plantations in the Himalayas of British India. There were just two problems: India had no tea plants worth growing, and the company wouldn't have known what to do with them if it had. Hence Robert Fortune's daring trip. The Chinese interior was off-limits and virtually unknown to the West, but that's where the finest tea was grown - the richest oolongs, soochongs and pekoes. And the Emperor aimed to keep it that way.
The Italian Boy: A Tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830s London
Sarah Wise - 2004
For any student of the city and its secret life, it is indispensable reading." -Peter Ackroyd, The Times (London)Before his murder in 1831, the "Italian boy" was one of thousands of orphans on the streets of London, begging among the livestock, hawkers, and con men. When his body was sold to a medical college, the suppliers were arrested for murder. Their high-profile trial would unveil a furtive trade in human corpses carried out by "resurrection men" who killed to satisfy the first rule of the cadaver market: the fresher the body, the higher the price. Historian Sarah Wise reconstructs not only the boy's murder but the chaos and squalor of his world. In 1831 London, the poor were desperate and the wealthy petrified, the population swelling so fast that class borders could not hold. All the while, early humanitarians were attempting to protect the disenfranchised, the courts were establishing norms of punishment, and doctors were pioneering the science of anatomy.As vivid and intricate as a novel by Charles Dickens, The Italian Boy restores to history the lives of the very poorest Londoners and offers an unparalleled account of England's great metropolis at the brink of a major transformation.
The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London
Judith Flanders - 2012
In only a few decades, the capital grew from a compact Regency town into a sprawling metropolis of 6.5 million inhabitants, the largest city the world had ever seen. Technology--railways, street-lighting, and sewers--transformed both the city and the experience of city-living, as London expanded in every direction. Now Judith Flanders, one of Britain's foremost social historians, explores the world portrayed so vividly in Dickens' novels, showing life on the streets of London in colorful, fascinating detail. From the moment Charles Dickens, the century's best-loved English 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, 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.
Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum
Kathryn Hughes - 2017
Reading it is like unravelling the bandages on a mummy to find the face of the past staring back in all its terrible and poignant humanity’ Financial TimesA groundbreaking account of what it was like to live in a Victorian body from one of our best historians.Why did the great philosophical novelist George Eliot feel so self-conscious that her right hand was larger than her left?Exactly what made Darwin grow that iconic beard in 1862, a good five years after his contemporaries had all retired their razors?Who knew Queen Victoria had a personal hygiene problem as a young woman and the crisis that followed led to a hurried commitment to marry Albert?What did John Sell Cotman, a handsome drawing room operator who painted some of the most exquisite watercolours the world has ever seen, feel about marrying a woman whose big nose made smart people snigger?How did a working-class child called Fanny Adams disintegrate into pieces in 1867 before being reassembled into a popular joke, one we still reference today, but would stop, appalled, if we knew its origins?Kathryn Hughes follows a thickened index finger or deep baritone voice into the realms of social history, medical discourse, aesthetic practise and religious observance – its language is one of admiring glances, cruel sniggers, an implacably turned back. The result is an eye-opening, deeply intelligent, groundbreaking account that brings the Victorians back to life and helps us understand how they lived their lives.
The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
Steven Johnson - 2006
John Snow. It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure—garbage removal, clean water, sewers—necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action—and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time. In a triumph of multidisciplinary thinking, Johnson illuminates the intertwined histories and inter-connectedness of the spread of disease, contagion theory, the rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry, offering both a riveting history and a powerful explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.
Claire Tomalin - 2011
When Charles Dickens died in 1870, The Times of London successfully campaigned for his burial in Westminster Abbey, the final resting place of England's kings and heroes. Thousands flocked to mourn the best recognized and loved man of nineteenth-century England. His books had made them laugh, shown them the squalor and greed of English life, and also the power of personal virtue and the strength of ordinary people. In his last years Dickens drew adoring crowds to his public appearances, had met presidents and princes, and had amassed a fortune.Like a hero from his novels, Dickens trod a hard path to greatness. Born into a modest middle-class family, his young life was overturned when his profligate father was sent to debtors' prison and Dickens was forced into harsh and humiliating factory work. Yet through these early setbacks he developed his remarkable eye for all that was absurd, tragic, and redemptive in London life. He set out to succeed, and with extraordinary speed and energy made himself into the greatest English novelist of the century.Years later Dickens's daughter wrote to the author George Bernard Shaw, "If you could make the public understand that my father was not a joyous, jocose gentleman walking about the world with a plum pudding and a bowl of punch, you would greatly oblige me." Seen as the public champion of household harmony, Dickens tore his own life apart, betraying, deceiving, and breaking with friends and family while he pursued an obsessive love affair.Charles Dickens: A Life gives full measure to Dickens's heroic stature-his huge virtues both as a writer and as a human being- while observing his failings in both respects with an unblinking eye. Renowned literary biographer Claire Tomalin crafts a story worthy of Dickens's own pen, a comedy that turns to tragedy as the very qualities that made him great-his indomitable energy, boldness, imagination, and showmanship-finally destroyed him. The man who emerges is one of extraordinary contradictions, whose vices and virtues were intertwined as surely as his life and his art.
A History of Britain in 21 Women
Jenni Murray - 2016
To say that it’s high time that it was defined by its women falls some way short of an understatement.Jenni Murray draws together the lives 21 women to shed light upon a variety of social, political, religious and cultural aspects of British history. In lively prose Murray reinvigorates the stories behind the names we all know and reveals the fascinating tales behind those less familiar, ultimately producing a unique history of Britain that is as long-overdue as it is absorbing. From famous queens to forgotten visionaries, and from great artists to our most influential political actors, A History of Britain in 21 Women is a veritable feast of page-turning history.A History of Britain in 21 Women will profile Boudicca, Aphra Behn, Elizabeth I (this chapter will also feature Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots), Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Constance Markievicz, Nancy Astor, Ada Lovelace, Caroline Herschel, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Gwen John, Rosalind Franklin, Ethel Smyth, Margaret Thatcher, Nicola Sturgeon, Mary Quant, Barbara Castle and Mary Somerville.
London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets
Peter Ackroyd - 2011
The depth below is hot, much warmer than the surface and this book tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures that dwell in darkness, real and fictional -- rats and eels, monsters and ghosts. There is a bronze-age trackway under the Isle of Dogs, Wren found Anglo-Saxon graves under St Paul's, and the monastery of Whitefriars lies beneath Fleet Street. In Kensal Green cemetery there was a hydraulic device to lower bodies into the catacombs below -- "Welcome to the lower depths". A door in the plinth of statue of Boadicea on Westminster Bridge leads to a huge tunnel, packed with cables -- gas, water, telephone. When the Metropolitan Line was opened in 1864 the guards asked for permission to grow beards to protect themselves against the sulphurous fumes, and called their engines by the names of tyrants -- Czar, Kaiser, Mogul -- and even Pluto, god of the underworld.Going under London is to penetrate history, to enter a hidden world. "The vastness of the space, a second earth," writes Peter Ackroyd, "elicits sensations of wonder and of terror. It partakes of myth and dream in equal measure."