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London in the Nineteenth Century: A Human Awful Wonder of God

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  107 ratings  ·  19 reviews
This dazzling new book explores London’s history in the Nineteenth century, from the destruction of old London and the unparalled suburban expansion, to its absorption of people from all over the world.


From the Hardcover edition.
Paperback, 640 pages
Published January 3rd 2008 by Random House UK (first published 2007)
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Jakey Gee
Very good and very dense. I lost count of the pages I bookmarked to go back to and streets and novels to follow up. It’s more rigorous and less sentimental than a Peter Ackroyd (not to say that those don’t have their charms).

There was a Crosse & Blackwell factory on Charing Cross Road. Haymarket was full of prostitutes. Music Halls and theatres were too. The hard-up used to be radical. Wentworth Street was the ‘Jews’ Market’. Soho was full of reluctant posh French emigres (plus ca change).
...more
Jimmie
I have 2 family lines that lived in London in this century. I was fascinated to read about their London and what was going on. A large chunk of London was under construction, with more people moving in and London was spreading out too. There was the Chartist demonstrates and the disease and crime outbreaks too. I would think they thought the Salt lake valley was a little bit of heaven. Maybe they did get homesick for their families left behind, and missed the grand parks. Such a huge change for ...more
Stuart
Londoners in the 19th century would use anything as an excuse to go a bit mad and burn stuff down.
And life in the 19th century was mostly not so nice.
D.E. Meredith
Read it twice already. Now reading - dipping into again - completely wonderful. A first-rate history of London in the C19th.
Malcolm
This does exactly what good social history should do – it takes us, as much as is possible, into the lives and experiences of everyday Londoners. It is not a history of the rich and powerful, of London as as an Imperial city, or any of the other stories of London that could be told – but of the city's mass of working people and the changes in their conditions of life through London's stupendous growth in the 19th century: a sweeping history from below. White's two oral histories from the 1980s – ...more
Nick
A brilliant, extraordinary evocation of London, street by street, in the 19th century. The research is staggering. White uses the street layout of London to discuss kinds of city life -- religious, political, mercantile, criminal, the demi-monde, and so on -- and it's a conceit that works well because each area of London specializes, as it were, in a particular kind of sociology. White also manages to give a detailed sense of the astounding growth of London, especially during the Victorian perio ...more
Josh Hogan


Probably the most definitive written exploration of London in the nineteenth century (admittedly I haven't read that many, although I'd be surprised to come across a longer, more fully rounded book on this subject), this is a well written and highly informative volume on our capital city at the time when it was the world's greatest city. Known as the new Rome, London underwent a miraculous transformation in this century, in terms of size, population, infrastructure and culture.

Jerry White explor
...more
Gianni
Very detailed and comprehensive account of life in London across the 19th century. At times this book feels a little bit overwhelming with the amount of detailed information. Not an easy read, but if you want to learn how the capital of an Empire developed from a small town to the largest city in the world, this is the book you should read. Plenty of great period photos too.
Holjo
I've been studying London history as a new hobby, and this has been my favorite book so far in terms of content. If I could change one thing, I would ask that the author add more visuals. Maps of the neighborhoods from that time frame would be outstanding. More pictures would be great also.
Ayla
Excellent biography of the great city in the nineteenth century - what's amazing is how different a place it was in terms of buildings, culture, politics, social fabric and more at the beginning of the century from the end of the century.
Jess
Not only is White an incredible researcher and historian, but he is also a masterful narrator who vividly describes the nineteenth-century metropolis.
Sarah Harkness
I've been reading this on and off for several months - it's well written, very comprehensive, and full of excellent notes and bibliographies
Cliff
Fascinating insight into 19th century London. A 'must read' for anyone interested in the history of the capital.
James Webster
Lots of very interesting detail and very readable. Nineteenth-century London was clearly horrific.
April
Mentioned as a source by Horowitz when he wrote The House of Silk Holmes novel.
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Claire
And you think it's bad in the 21st century....
Michael
not very interesting.
Renae
Very interesting.
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