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The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London
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The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  288 ratings  ·  68 reviews
From the 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 inh ...more
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published July 15th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published October 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,377)
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O London! City of famous fogs, pea-soupers, the London particular, a choking of the throat and cayenne pepper in the eyes and stepping gingerly along the street you must feel the walls as you goes or you shall tumble into somebody’s cellar for sure, and all the pickpockets glad for the bad days, and Parliament forced to bring in a Purification of the Thames Act from the sheer stink of it lapping at their grand doors. And the smoke from the house fires, 644 in 1848, and that a mild year. 239 kill ...more
Having looked at the Victorian house, Victorian crime and Victorian leisure in previous books, the author now turns her attention to the Victorian city. In particular, London during the time of Dickens', using his journalism and novels to illustrate her own book. Judith Flanders makes an important point that today the word 'Dickensian' often refers to squalor - such as the term 'Dickensian conditions' - whereas in his own time the author was more often seen as convivial and often humorous. As an ...more
This is a fascinating overview of what life was like in London during Dicken's lifetime/writing period. The author has done extensive research and refers to Dicken's work as a tie-in. I have not read most of Dicken's writing, yet had no problem appreciating this book. The information focuses on the working and working poor so we see how hard it was just to make enough money to stay fed and sheltered. The lives of the street workers (food vendors etc) were horrific, and yet they were not the wors ...more
A well written and entertaining look at life in London during a fifty-year segment of the 18th century, it gave me much to ponder and spawned a couple of story ideas. Judith Flanders touches on some current research about the city and refutes some of the popular--but baseless--accounts of life, especially for the poor. There were some notable gaps (in particular, I noticed there was little discussion of spirituality, and a lot of the social agitation of the time was glossed over). But I've defin ...more
Daniel Kukwa
It's enormous...bordering on the overwhelming. This is not a quick read, but it is as detailed and sumptuous an examination of a magnificent city during a certain epoch as you are likely to find. Those looking for the late 19th century "Downton Abbey" Victoriana won't find it here -- this is a book of 1820 to 1870. What you WILL find is the London of Charles Dickens' novels...and the London that fired Charles Dickens' imagination, in all its warts-and-all glory. It will take time, and a great de ...more
As a historical fiction author, I'm always doing research -- even when I don't have a work in progress. So, when the opportunity arose for me to read and review this book, I jumped at it.

Author Judith Flanders examines life in London from the Regency to Victorian eras, covering such matters as transportation, food acquisition, street theatre (which she defines as events people might watch from the street, such as a funeral procession) and even prostitution.

The book comes in at a weighty 544 page
Belinda G
Quite good. Started off really well but started to drag. Weirdly, the kindle version finishes at 66%, the rest being footnotes and sources. No wonder I felt like I was getting nowhere!!
Peter Mcloughlin
I will repeat here something I have told many acquantainces. I am exceedingly happy that I was born after 1950. I couldn't cut it any further back in time. Though the upper and middle classes in Victorian England had better table manners than moderns I would argue that they were less civilized and life in the 19th century although better than what came before was still pretty nasty brutish and short. The book gives a good look at London in the 19th century and makes me rejoice at living in the 2 ...more
London, city of cities - in 1800, it was the largest city the world had ever known with a population in excess of 1,000,000. All of the issues large urban concentrations of people have had to work out were first hammered out here; from the problems of how to deal with that much sewage to how to ensure clean drinking water; how to organise mass transport to how to deal with the massive crowds that turned up to sightsee everything - like the Great Tooley Fire which burned eleven acres of warehouse ...more
A 500-page book can be a difficult read. This one was surprisingly graceful and progressed very well. Even with chapters devoted to just road construction and travel, each chapter progresses at a steady pace without becoming bogged down in minutiae. Some readers may glance over the abundant Dickens literary references. Even fans of Dickens probably do not recall the many locations and activities that Flansers cites in the book. It is not necessary to recognize the landmarks as Flanders does a su ...more
Marsella Johnson
This is London experienced through the eyes of Charles Dickens,my favorite author. The historical data in this is more than impressive but I struggled getting through some of it because of my ignorance of the physical geography. Despite those struggles I was given a rare glimpse of what it meant to be a Londoner when Mr. Dickens arrived in 1822.

He used to obsessively walk the streets and was England's greatest observer, as we discovered through the likes of "Oliver Twist", "David Copperfield",
This 520 page book is huge in scope, although the last 100 pages are notes, index, and bibliography. It covers the London roads, theaters and entertainments, eating habits and places, the huge number of street sellers (and how specialized they were!), the waterways, rail (above and underground), the fire brigades, the nearly complete lack of sanitation, and more. The London of Dickens’ day was a horrible place (I knew it was bad, so that was no surprise; the surprise was the degree of badness) i ...more
This was ok. I wanted more detail and statistics rather than narrative. It kept meandering off in different directions based on an anecdote from someone's diary rather than actual facts about the era. It also spent too much time exploring leisure activities rather than things such as housing and social divisions. A good read that doesn't go into as much as detail as I hoped. Read a book called Dicken's Victorian London by Alex Werner and Tony Williams instead.
Lenissa Davis
This is the first book that I read from this author, and I didn't realize I was missing out on her remarkable weaving of words. It was so beautifully written that you could see the people walking in the streets, them stopping at stalls for food. To see Dickens' London explore more was phenomenal and breathtaking.

The Victorian City was divided into four parts: The City Wakes (1), Staying Alive (2), Enjoying Life (3) and Sleeping and Awake (4). In the beginning Flanders gives us brief detail on D
Timo Ivanov
This is author Judith Flanders' third book about life in Victorian England. Her first two works -- Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England (inexplicably retitled The Victorian House: Domestic Life From Childbirth to Deathbed in the frontispiece to the current work) and Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain -- looked at the workaday home and concepts of leisure in the United Kingdom in the 1800s.

This new work, which clocks in at a hefty
James Elder
Excellent and highly recommended for any 21st century resident of London, as it honestly does make you look anew at the places you visit every day.

It also got me thinking about how much has changed (public health, attitudes to violence in public) and how much hasn't (judgmental attitudes to women, vested interests). It reminded me that all the social advances of the 20th century - chiefly the welfare state - cannot be taken for granted. There are those who would reverse them, and damn those who
Terri Lynn
I just loved this! Author Judith Flanders takes readers on a very detailed tour of Dickens' London which actually begins before the Victorian Age. It was like time traveling to the past to revisit the city of "Great Expectations" and "A Christmas Carol"- my personal two favorite Dickens stories though I am also keen on "Oliver Twist" and "The Pickwick Papers" and "David Copperfield". Dickens!!!!! I love his work.

Another reason I loved this book is because I am addicted to criminal fiction (in t
Mary Brodd
One of those books that reminds you that the past is really a foreign country. It would never have dawned on me, for example, that people didn't necessarily have kitchens, but would take their food to "cookshops" to have it prepared for meals. And how much manure would be produced by the tens of thousands or horses used in the city (and how much hay they'd need to eat...). And that people wouldn't have any better sense than to drink the river water into which they'd just emptied their chamber po ...more
Really interesting.
Many decades ago, I read a book called The Good Old Days: They Were Terrible. It was about how the "good old days" of the 1800's were actually full of stinking garbage in the streets, diseases that spread without cure, and rampant poverty.

I was reminded of that book when I read The Victorian City.

This incredibly well-researched book dives into the details of life in the London of Charles Dickens. Weaving Dickens prose into historical narrative, it brings to life the London of the 1800's. And it
The Victorian City is an extremely well-researched and well written history of Britain during a time upon which the author has spent all of her writing career.
What makes this book even better is the sub-title: "Everyday Life in Dickens' London. She examines every aspect of the city from what people ate to how they ate it, their work and play, trials and joys and customs and dress. You will also discover how justice was meted out. Through all of these sights and sounds of London, she weaves Dic
THE VICTORIAN CITY, by Judith Flanders, is an excellent and fascinating story of the birth of a modern city, London. As it happened, all the myriad of changes, and challenges, occurred during the lifetime of Charles Dickens, 1812 to 1870, who recorded much of it in his novels. Judith Flanders makes constant references to Dickens' work throught the book, illustrating how he wrote most about what he knew intimately, the city and its inhabitants.

Using an enormous amount of research which includes
Bob H
This work not only tells us what London was like in those times, but it places Dickens –man and boy – in that London, in the places he saw and experienced, and it also carefully places Dickens’ various books among those landmarks. It puts Dickens in context, his books in context, and places us in that city. “Dickens’ London was a place of the mind, but it was also a real place. Much of what we take today to be the marvelous imaginings of a visionary novelist turn out on inspection to be the repo ...more
An excellent description of everyday life in Victorian London - or, to be precise, in London during Dickens's lifetime (1812-1870). It could just as easily have been called The Dickensian City. I suspect that was the author's original title, and it was modified by the publisher for marketing reasons. (The BBC has run down Dickens's reputation of late, by making depressing and soapish adaptations of his books.) Dickens's life and works are often cited, and the introduction discusses how the meani ...more
I would have given this 3 1/2 stars if I could ~

I read Judith Flanders' previous book 'The Invention of Murder' and absolutely devoured it and so I had naturally been meaning to read this for quite sometime but managed to wait until it came out on paper back (as it is very large)!

I didn't enjoy it as much as 'The Invention of Murder' which is shorter and covers a narrower topic, but it was still an interesting and at times entertaining read.

While the book does contain some personal stories/anti
Having thoroughly enjoyed Judith Flanders' last book, The Invention of Murder, and just being in love with the Victorian period in general I was really looking forward to reading this. And, I have to say, it didn't disappoint. It was brilliantly evocative of the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Victorian London - the noise; the smells of the streets; the unending, inescapable busyness of the place. She manages to brilliantly bring to life the streets of the capital with a clarity and vividn ...more
Eric Ruark
This is a must book for all Dickens' fans. The subtitle is "Everyday Life in Dickens' London" lives up to just that. If you have ever read PICKWICK PAPERS, NICHOLAS NICKLEBY OLD CURIOSITY SHOP DAVID COPPERFIELD OLIVER TWIST or any of the other Dickens' novels or stories this is the companion book that you need by your side. Judith Flanders takes you through every aspect of life on London's streets during the 1800's. Absolutely fascinating. You can feel the crowded push of the people, practically ...more
Samantha Wilde
This book was impressive. It was magnificently detailed and Judith Flanders deserves a round of applause for making not only an extensive book about London's history and the famous author that lived there but also making it interesting to read. I was completely enthralled by Judith's London, she left nothing untouched and that is a feat in its own. There is a reason this book is 1/4 a bibliography, not to mention the interesting foot notes...normally I'm not a fan of footnotes but it definitely ...more
Patricia Fawcett
An amazing insight into all aspects of London life: housing; social development; poverty [even among those who could work]; transport; sanitation; infant mortality; debtors' prisons. This is a very comprehensive social study which adds a further dimension to the works of Charles Dickens; much of it is cross-referenced to his novels. London struggled, with the rapid onset of industrialisation, to cope with a burgeoning population. Poverty and disease were rife. It was not until the 'Great stink' ...more
This book is a description of London and its people in Victorian times, a period of great change and upheaval in the city, from the construction of sewers, to the demolition of slum areas, to improvements in travelling ability due to the advent of railways, etc, etc. A fantastically detailed view of this particular period and all tied together by comparison with Dickens' descriptions. The author is obviously a great fan of Dickens and his work, and this enthusiasm comes through in the book, with ...more
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  • Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870
  • The Victorians
  • How to Be a Victorian
  • Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England
  • The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work, and Play
  • The London Underworld in the Victorian Period: Authentic First-Person Accounts by Beggars, Thieves and Prostitutes
  • The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England
  • Shakespeare's Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects
  • The Darkened Room: Women, Power, and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England
  • The Victorian Underworld
  • London in the Nineteenth Century: A Human Awful Wonder of God
  • Did She Kill Him?: A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic
  • Inventing the Victorians
  • Foundation (The History of England, #1)
  • 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War
  • Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household
  • Victorian Murderesses: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French and English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes
  • The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England
Judith Flanders was born in London, England, in 1959. She moved to Montreal, Canada, when she was two, and spent her childhood there, apart from a year in Israel in 1972, where she signally failed to master Hebrew.

After university, Judith returned to London and began working as an editor for various publishing houses. After this 17-year misstep, she began to write and in 2001 her first book, A Cir
More about Judith Flanders...
Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime A Circle of Sisters: Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne-Jones, Agnes Poynter and Louisa Baldwin Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain A Murder of Magpies

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