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The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum
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The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  130 ratings  ·  14 reviews
* In 1887 Government inspectors were sent to explore the horrifying - often lethal - living conditions of the Old Nichol, a notorious 15-acre slum in London's East End.

* Among much else they found that the rotting 100-year-old houses were some of the most lucrative properties in the capital for their absent slumlords. Peers of the Realm, local politicians, churchmen and la
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 5th 2008 by Bodley Head (first published 2008)
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Wise has constructed from a great diversity of historical material an excellent and thoroughly convincing account of life in one of East London's roughet, but also most maligned slums, the 'Old Nichol' area of Bethnal Green. The streets and alleys which comprised the Nichol were cleared away to make way for the Boundary Estate at the end of the nineteenth century, and this act of urban cleansing might have removed them from the record forever, but for Wise's assiduous excavation of parish and ve ...more
I got this from the Whitechapel library as some last minute reading for my interview. On the train home after the interview I took it out of my bag and continued reading. It is a very well written and researched history book. It contained lots of footnotes, and lots of pictures and illustrations from original sources (which is a nice feature in a cheap paperback). The book outlines the history of a Victorian slum in Bethnal Green. It does so in a way that's really neither marginilising or crimin ...more
"This has been a voyeuristic book about voyeurism..." and a good, entertaining, and rage inspiring one it was too! If a little rambling and feeling a bit disconnected at times. I'd be more than happy to sit back in no small amount of awe and wonder to laugh at the Victorian upper-class mental cases who waltzed in to stare at and save poor people, were so many of their prejudices and cracked beliefs not so rife in present times. When they cleared out the Nichol and built beautiful new buildings t ...more
A "fruitful hotbed of disease and death"!
I got this book out of the library for two reasons: 1) someone recommended it in the Goodreads reviews for Lost London: 1870-1945 which I'd recently bought; 2) I thought, based on my struggles with working out historical London streets, that I had ancestors living in the Nichol around 1840. I've since discovered that my lot were actually in Haggerston, several blocks to the north, but never mind.

This is a very readable account of the neighbourhood behind St Leonard Shoreditch which, for about on
H.L. Stephens
The details and descriptions along with the raw data are mind boggling. Impeccable research. I was impressed from the first page to the last.
Lily C
A very readable account
The Literary Expedition
An in-depth, thoroughly researched portrait of life in a Victorian slum. This book pulls no punches and does not sugar coat the indignities of slum life. Wonderful.

Read Katie's full review here
Amie Shearer
Wise brings the Victorian slum to life, weaving facts, interviews, research & court cases seamlessly together with prose-like writing. Can be a little heavy going in parts but overall a brilliant depiction if life in East End London at the turn of the twentieth century.
Three is generous. The writing is inconsistent, and sometimes a little difficult to follow. However, it's worth trudging through as it is a hot bed of information on life in a Victorian slum. There are few books out there that give a reasonably rounded portrayal of the subject.
Marion Husband
A little heavy going in parts, but whe she writes about the people in the chapters Prince Arthur and Our Father, it's entertaining, I would have a look at her other, prize winning history The Italian Boy, as that sounds interesting
Adam Johnson
not bad , starts well but looses a little direction, not as good as the Italian Boy, interesting all the same
Amanda Burrows
A must for anyone who has an interest in Victorian Working Class families.
Becca Haynes
Excellent, excellent book.
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I grew up in West London and went to school in White City. After graduation in English Literature, I worked as a journalist, mostly for arts, architecture and design titles, including the Guardian arts desk and Space magazine — the Guardian's design and architecture supplement.

I did a Master's degree in Victorian Studies at Birkbeck, University of London – jumping ship from EngLit to History. A ch
More about Sarah Wise...
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“A cultural chasm between the giver and the given-to made many of the poorest unwilling to ask for help: if bread, clothing, boots, medical aid, coal and candles were to be accompanied by a sermon, a lecture, an intrusive questioning of the applicant's life history — well, perhaps the hunger and cold would be bearable for a little longer. So they continued to fall to their deaths in the crevasses between the Poor Law and philanthropy.” 0 likes
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