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London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  206 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A sensational story of murder, trial and public revenge influenced the great writers and commentators of the day. As much a book about London as the story of a murder books about London sell. Full of fascinating detail about mid-Victorian London in the vein of Peter Ackroyd social history at its best.
Features a famous cast of characters that includes Dickens and Marx.
Hardcover, 236 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Pearson Education Limited (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  206 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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May 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Rick, Chriss
In August 1849, Frederick Manning and his Swiss wife, Maria, lured a middle-aged moneylender named Patrick O'Connor to their home in the Bermondsey section of London. O'Connor and Mrs. Manning had been lovers prior to her marriage, and probably for awhile afterward too. They shot and clubbed him to death, covered his body with quicklime, and then buried it under their kitchen floor. Maria hurried to O'Connor's rented room, where she stole money and railway share certificates. Then she and ...more
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Much about the East End's extreme poverty and totally inhumane conditions were already well known to me as I have been reading about Jack The Ripper as well as walking the streets myself many times on trips to England, since 1988.

I did learn a few new things like defendants did not speak on their own behalf even when accused of murder, their lawyers did all the talking.

Unlike many other reviewers it did not bother me in the least that the murder part of the book was
BAM Endlessly Booked
Boo to whomever picked the title of this book! I obviously expected the story of a MURDER that TOOK PLACE in LONDON in 1849. I'm so silly. What I got was a couple of paragraphs at the beginning and a couple of paragraphs at the end about a murder, and the remainder of the book a sociological treatise of life in London during the 1840s-1860s. Not what I wanted. For all of that is was interesting I suppose, but not anything that couldn't have been learned in a thousand other more interesting books ...more
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is actually a snapshot of London in the year 1849 using a true crime as its frame. If you are doing research about how Victorian people lived in London at mid-century, this is the book for you. It also makes me want to read more about the crime, so I'm going to look up the book the author recommends.
Mar 31, 2009 rated it liked it
A Great into Victorian Life in London
Though its sub-titled A Victorian Murder Mystery, there is little mystery to be found in this book; the details of the crime and its aftermath are clearly described in the books first chapter. That said, London, 1849 provides an accessible view of Victorian Englands filthy, plague and crime-ridden capital. Branching out from the murder of Patrick OConnor by Frederick and Maria Manning, London 1849 goes on to detail such topics as health issues, prostitution,
Jul 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Not so much the story of a murder, which anyway was pretty simple (wife and husband kill her lover for his money and are caught and executed) but the story of London in 1849---which is a fascinating story. Especially the accounts of what people wore and ate, how they kept house, and what they did for entertainment. Conditions in poor areas were unbelievable by modern standards: there were no bathrooms or sanitary facilities; often there was no access to water but a single neighborhood pump that ...more
Nov 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly fascinating read and TOTALLY different than what I thought it was going to be. This book not only tells the story of a true murder case in 1849 London, but looks at London through a sociological study which would cause the murder to occur.

What bumped it from a 4 star to a 5 star was the author's reference of literature from that period of time reflecting on society and giving examples. I was simply enthralled with it and couldn't get enough
C. Rosenkreutz
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story by Michael Alpert is an interesting book. It describes the Victorian era style of living in an interesting and vivid way, making you feel like you would be standing there and seeing the scenery yourself. I love it for that, but unfortunately I have to take 1 star away, because the title of the book doesn't accurately present the content.

You see, the title makes you think that the book is largely about the murder, but in reality there's about 1/3 of the
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction

An unusual book, but it grew on me and I ended up ordering a copy for my brother. Alpert tells the reader about London in the year around 1849 by using a murder to focus the information. I found that this device worked quite well. I have been in London a few times (in the 1960s and 1990s) and find the city fascinating. Also, I have read a lot of Victorian literature and much of what he describes and discusses gave me new perspectives. For example, I knew something about the incredible poverty
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
In 1849, Maria Manning and her husband Frederick murdered Patrick O'Connor, Maria's lover. O'Connor arrived for dinner with the Mannings and, as he washed his face in the kitchen, was shot in the head Frederick Manning then beat the victim with a crowbar. The couple then buried him under the kitchen floor and went about their lives. The body was found when a girl who was hired to clean the kitchen, found the floor tiles loose and the grout still wet. The police were called and dug up the body. ...more
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
The title and the description of the book on the book jacket are completely misleading. They imply that it is a victorian murder story, but the only real references to a murder story are contained in the first and last chapters. The remainder of the book is centered around the conditions and the time surrounding the murder.

While some of the chapters had some interesting information about the times, it was overall a fairly dry and somewhat disappointing read.
Kristina Minor
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not exactly about a murder. The murder occurs in the first few pages. The remainder of the book describes what and how the murders may have lived--as a medium for describing the facts of life in the Victorian days. Amazing amount of details. Could easily be used as a text book for a history class.
Aug 14, 2008 rated it liked it
The subtitle "A Victorian Murder Story" is misleading: the entire murder story is told in the first chapter. The murder is used as a framework for telling about daily life in London in the mid-Victorian period. The history is a bit basic if you already have some knowledge of the period, but well written and researched, with extensive notes.
Dec 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime, history
This uses the murder in 1849 committed by Maria and Frederick Manning as the centre, but looks at aspects of life at the time. This includes education, communication and crime. Interesting book and a moment in history.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
The book was really a glimpse of London, and England, during this year. The "murder" was used as a vehicle to drive the discussion of life in London during this period. The murder itself was straightforward and would barely fill a chapter; a misleading title.
Kim Dixon
If you want a pure murder story, this isn't it. However, if you want a look into early Victorian era life for all classes, this is your book.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Not much about the murder itself but lots of interesting facts about London in 1849.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Living in London has meaning to me. I shall be visiting the streets so well described and visualising it back in 1849
Katie Bee
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-books-read
So, this book is very much about the title ("London 1849") and relatively little about the subtitle ("A Victorian Murder Story"). If you pick it up looking for a true crime history about a famous murder, you are probably going to be disappointed; there's a cursory overview of the facts of the crime in the first chapter, but the rest of the book is 95% London, 5% "murderers as framing device". (E.g., 'here's a chapter on food and kitchens in London, since Maria cooked a goose the day of the ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Despite its provocative title, it's less about a lurid murder and more a social and cultural overview of a city and an era on the cusp of monumental social and technological changes. Once I got over my initial pique that I was not, in fact, getting a modern penny dreadful for my troubles, I found it an informative read that offered a lush portrait of a city and its people. And if it's penny-dreadful grue you seek, Alpert helpfully provides such a title in the opening sentence of his book.

Jillian Hornyak
Aug 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting look into how life would have been in London in the 1840s however the title is misleading- there is very little on the murder the book supposedly centers around or the capture of the guilty party.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Not a murder story at all really. The murder serves as a reference point which the author occasionally mentions in order to depict Victorian-era London life. Aside from Chapter 4, which contains the most foul depictions of unsanitary living conditions that I have ever read, its a very mediocre work. The sections on Communication, What they ate & what they wore, & Crime & Punishment are interesting enough, but w/only about 20 pages for each chapter, the author doesnt have much space ...more
Rob Nichols
NOT a story about a Victorian Murder. The author centers research around a murder that happened at the time of interest to him. The crime, coverup, discovery, investigation, manhunt, capture/arrest, trial, and execution are all covered in detail in the first chapter. The rest of the book is the author telling details from around that time period, and he speculates whether or not the players may have experienced the way of life he describes. It is not bad research, and I did learn some ...more
Jan 11, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: true-events, own
Don't I own this???
Feb 14, 2010 marked it as didnt-finish
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
was expecting murder story, not a history of london. whoops.
rated it it was amazing
Jul 25, 2013
Ju Zeng
rated it it was ok
May 27, 2018
rated it really liked it
Jun 17, 2012
rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2019
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Jul 03, 2019
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