The Victorian City
Everyday Life in Dickens' London
By Judith Flanders
(Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9781250040213, 520pp.)
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
List Price: $27.99*
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From the "New York Times" bestselling and critically acclaimed author of "The Invention of Murder," an extraordinary, revelatory portrait of everyday life on the streets of Dickens' London.
The nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented change, and nowhere was this more apparent than London. 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, 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 colorful cries of street-sellers to the uncomfortable reality of travel by omnibus, to the many uses for the body parts of dead horses and the unimaginably grueling working days of hawker children, no detail is too small, or too strange. No one who reads Judith Flanders's meticulously researched, captivatingly written The Victorian City will ever view London in the same light again.
Praise for THE VICTORIAN CITY“Outstanding.” - Sunday Times (London)
“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 (London)
“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 (London)
“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 (UK)
“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 (UK)
“Recreates the textures of everyday life with an anthropologist's understanding of human behaviour alongside a storyteller's eye for character.” --Daily Telegraph (UK) Praise for THE INVENTION OF MURDER
“Judith Flanders's wonderful, sometimes appalling The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime, is a guidebook to notably grisly true-life tales… [Flanders] shines in her readings of literary novels containing criminal and detective elements, such as Oliver Twist, Mary Barton and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but can be sharp and very funny about the vagaries of melodramatic and sensational plotting. Holmes once chided Watson, ‘You see but you don't observe.’ Ms. Flanders does both. This is an enticing book for any reader who, like the genteel lady in Emily Eden's The Semi-Detached House (1859), admits: ‘There is such a grand murder in the paper . . . a whole family poisoned . . . it is very shocking, but I like to hear about it.’” –Wall Street Journal
“Flanders’ meticulous research, personable style and keen insights are bliss for anyone interested in the Victorians and their quirks.” –Seattle Times
“Superb… Flanders’s convincing and smart synthesis of the evolution of an official police force, fictional detectives, and real-life cause célèbres will appeal to devotees of true crime and detective fiction alike.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Brilliantly researched and rendered, this is an indispensible read for anyone—scholars and the general public alike—who harbors an interest in the evolution of the notion and representation of murder….Flanders presents a fascinating narrative in well-crafted and at times suitably ironic praise.” –Library Journal, starred review