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A Child of the Jago

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  423 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Here is the only critical edition of Arthur Morrison's searing tale of life in the slums of London's East End. Peter Miles's comprehensive edition offers unrivalled contextual material about the book, its author, and the social debates to which it contributed. The introduction discusses the real slums of London, Morrison's life and work, the social politics of the book, an ...more
Paperback, 217 pages
Published February 20th 2012 by Oxford University Press (first published 1896)
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Paul Bryant
Jul 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels

This novel is 156 pages long but you have to have all the extra 60 pages of notes & glossaries & so forth because of this kind of thing:

They and their friends resorted to a shop in Meakin Street kept by an “ikey” tailor, there to buy the original out-and-out benjamins, or the celebrated bang-up kicksies, cut saucy, with artful buttons and a double fakement down the sides


Those of the High Mob were the flourishing practitioners in burglary, the mag, the mace, and the broads with an outer
Rachel Stevenson
Gang violence, running battles with the police, an underclass stealing everything that isn't nailed down? Let's hope Osborne & co haven't read this novel; they'll be using it as a blueprint for our future society.

Coming off somewhere between Dickens and Zola, Morrison writes not particularly sympathetically about life in the Victorian Shoreditch slum but posits, against the prevailing belief of the time, that criminality is caused by poverty rather than it being the natural character of the
Melissa Jackson
The plight of everyone in this story is excruciating and utterly depressing to read. The despair and tragedy is literally non-stop. Yet somehow, through all the death and poverty and horror of the Victorian working class condition, there are moments of poignant beauty.
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Painful story of an impovershed family in London who must lie, steal and murder to feed themselves. Statement on the demoralizing effects of hunger, poverty and ghetto mentality.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: london, reviews
Naturalism has been called the literature of "pessimistic materialistic determinism"...and by golly Arthur Morrison gives us a basinful in A Child of the Jago, his 1896 novel of slum-life in the East End of London. Taking his cue from arch-Naturalist Émile Zola’s view of mankind as “human beasts”, Morrison tells the story of young Dicky Perrott – doomed at conception to poverty, squalor, ignorance, immorality, and violence thanks to “the grimed walls and foul earth”, “the close, mingled stink” o ...more
Elizabeth Moffat
The East End of London in the late 19th century was sometimes quite a pitiful place, the slums in particular, where just making it through the day was an achievement in itself. Crime, violence, prostitution and poverty were rife, and I think Arthur Morrison paints a vivid portrait of the squalor at that period of time in this short novel. Our main character, Dicky Perrott has known nothing else but the life in the Jago, with only one rule for life – “thou shall not nark,” and seen no other solut ...more
Sep 26, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in documentary study of Victorian literature
Imagine a book that starts out like a generic imitation of Dickens, like most Victorian socially-interested novels, initially light-hearted, which degenerates into gut-splattering violence a few chapters in.

Morisson's only remembered work displays all the hallmarks of naturalism, and is probably best remembered for its sociopathy. From the mass violence scenes where the bodies of flat, empty characters are battered to the death of Looey who is replaced by another faceless girl child, an event na
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reminds me of Oliver Twist but without any 'Dicken's sentimentality.'
I was quite shocked to read about death, murder, beatings and rape described in such a stark and graphic way. But in some ways was appreciative of the fact that Arthur Morrison does not shy away from the harsh reality of slum life in 1980s London.
Unlike Morrison, Dickens rewards his character at the end with a loving middle class family. Dicky has no escape from the violent life of London.
In the same way i was quite
Tara Thomas
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Written a few years after his Tales of Mean Streets, this is a more detailed account of slum life in the Jago (Old Nichol slum in London) as it's being torn down around them. A story about the childhood of Dicky Perrott as he struggles to escape a life of crime. Morrison is critical of philanthropic and church institutions, class struggle, and warfare between adjacent slums surrounding the ghetto, while depicting Dicky's father figures, Fagin-like characters, a shop keeper, and a preacher who at ...more
The Jago was a corner of Shoreditch, notorious as the filthiest of London's 19th century slums. In his 2nd East End work, A. Morrison brings to life all the squalor of this area, among whose only commandment was "thou shall not nark."
Tao Chen
Not bad
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When this was presented to me as a "slum novel" I was prepared to hate it. I expected poverty, thugs, filth ... in short, a celebration of human indecency, like "Gangs of New York" in prose form. Well, there was certainly all that, yet strangely I still liked it.

Through all the suffering, ugliness, and ignorance portrayed in this novel, there is also a childlike ... sweetness, for lack of a better word. And not simply because the story focuses on a young boy and his interactions with family, fr
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an eye-opener for me. Although, set in an English slum in the Victorian era, this story can be applied to dwellers of the inner-city in my own country.

It seems that Morrison wants the reader to think about how social class impacts on an individual's destiny. From an early age, Dicky Perrot appeareded to be on a downward spiral, not because he was a bad person but due to the fact that he grew up in an environment that never stimulated positive moral development. Productive ambition
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
This book is mch shorter than The Nether World, but follows a very similiar storyline and setting, as well as time period.

The places where this book takes place truly existed in the East End of London over 100 years ago, but no longer exists as there was a massive slum clearance many many years ago. The area was called ' The old Nichol ', and you can google it and see old maps and if lucky a few old photos taken from the area at the time.

Yet another grim, grimy, depressing and miserable story of
While not a fan of most of his short stories I thought I should probably try and read Morrison's novel about the slums in East London. It was odd in lots of ways. It seemed to be under the impression that every poor person was a criminal, and that they were criminals because it was easier than working, not because there were no jobs. (Women's work was ignored or discounted). The oddest thing was that a bunch of homes were destroyed and people made homeless in order to build a new church at great ...more
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read the beginning of this Slum Fiction book and then work took over but picked it up again yesterday and finished it this morning. The casual violence and the hardships faced by the Victorian poor as well as the unwritten rules that governed those who lived in the Jago - an area of East London, has been an eyeopener. The material for this novel was based on people Morrison knew and genuine events. This is a heartbreaking read in many ways and was reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle - s ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
"Roper was a pale cabinet-maker, fallen on evil times and out of work. He had a pale wife, disliked because of her neatly-kept clothes, her exceeding use of soap and water, her aloofness from gossip. She had a deadly pale baby; also there was a hunchbacked boy of near Dicky's age. Collectively the Ropers were disliked as strangers: because they furnished their own room, and in an obnoxiously complete style; because Roper did not drink, nor brawl, nor beat his wife, nor do anything all day but lo ...more
David Rosario
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in London's East End during the late 1800s, Morrison's novel is an account of a boy who comes of age during the work and the struggles he, his family, and neighbors face in this slum. Morrison exhibits how some of the poor are able to rise above their inherent conditions in order to make honest and reliable incomes, but also captures the many failures as well. Though tragic and heartbreaking, Morrison's message that people in general are products of their environments rings as true as the be ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Horrifying, atmospheric, tragic, based on the reality of lives in part of east London in the late nineteenth century. Although this is a work of fiction, the picture of impoverished lives it creates (and creates well) is backed up elsewhere by factual accounts of the time and place. Those of us from a working class city background should be very, very grateful we did not live through such experiences.
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting account of what life was like in the east end slums of London, written by a contemporary. Appalling conditions, we basically follow the (mis)fortunes of one family. Plainly and unsentimentally written, characters were still well drawn. Once in the slum, it is nigh on impossible to get out or turn you life around and depressingly can't help but feel this is still the case for some people living in bad situations in this country today.
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: late-victorian
A typical victorian piece, decsribing not that much the industrial revolution, but the poor conditions of people living in the Jago. Morrison focuses on one particular family in slums and he illustrates how diffiult it was to overcome all social predjudice and to improve one's social status. He deals with themes of poverty, child-parental relationships, social hiearchy, crime and death. Shocking.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

The story of a squalid life of crime and grime in the East End. Gang fights, stabbings for no reason other than rivalry and petty theft. All sounds a bit too familiar, history repeats itself. Ultimately a bit depressing but thankfully it's not a long read. Now off to read something a bit less depressing.
A lot better than I thought it would be, with vivid descriptions and a real, gritty world created. You really do invest yourself in these characters, well, you invest yourself in Dicky Perrott, and become like a member of the Jago clan. The ending, however, whilst probably fitting as far as where the book could have gone, leaves the reader feeling rather deflated and unsatisfied.
Alex Csicsek
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Victorian slum novel comes across as the kind of book that happens when a journalist decides he's going to turn his energies to fiction. It's an interesting, straight-forward story, but the character development, plot, and extensive setting were probably of more interest to contemporary readers.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A completely absorbing tale of life in a London slum in the late 1880s. This is a book that I will read again and again - it is so real that you feel that you are part of it instead of being an onlooker. If you like Dickens you will love this.Can't rate it highly enough.
Just your usual realist novel that continually likens the poor to rats and exploitatively depicts children's deaths.
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian
The story of young Dicky Perrott provides a fascinating look at the impoverished community and culture of a notorious slum in late Victorian London.
Nov 12, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
another college required reading book. This is what you get when you are an english major
Jennie Wilson
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot believe this was written at the turn of the last century! A gritty, visceral down-and-out, just how I like them. Very British.
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Arthur George Morrison (1863-1945) was an English author and journalist, known for his realistic novels about London's East End and for his detective stories. In 1890, he left his job as a clerk at the People's Palace and joined the editorial staff of the Evening Globe newspaper. The following year, he published a story titled "A Street", which was subsequently published in book form in Tales of M ...more
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