Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840--1870

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Macmillan, Mar 7, 2006 - History - 368 pages
8 Reviews
To Londoners, the years 1840 to 1870 were years of dramatic change and achievement. As suburbs expanded and roads multiplied, London was ripped apart to build railway lines and stations and life-saving sewers. The Thames was contained by embankments, and traffic congestion was eased by the first underground railway in the world. A start was made on providing housing for the "deserving poor." There were significant advances in medicine, and the Ragged Schools are perhaps the least known of Victorian achievements, in those last decades before universal state education. In 1851 the Great Exhibition managed to astonish almost everyone, attracting exhibitors and visitors from all over the world. But there was also appalling poverty and exploitation, exposed by Henry Mayhew and others. For the laboring classes, pay was pitifully low, the hours long, and job security nonexistent. Liza Picard shows us the physical reality of daily life. She takes us into schools and prisons, churches and cemeteries. Many practical innovations of the time--flushing lavatories, underground railways, umbrellas, letter boxes, driving on the left--point the way forward. But this was also, at least until the 1850s, a city of cholera outbreaks, transportation to Australia, public executions, and the workhouse, where children could be sold by their parents for as little as 12 and streetpeddlers sold sparrows for a penny, tied by the leg for children to play with. Cruelty and hypocrisy flourished alongside invention, industry, and philanthropy.

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User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

Liza Picard is working her way through the history of London, with Elizabeth’s London, Restoration London, Dr. Johnson’s London, and now Victorian London. (Since the dear old queen reigned from 1837 ... Read full review

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User Review  - T_K_Elliott - LibraryThing

Liza Picard has achieved what many authors only dream of: to be informative, interesting, and witty. Simultaneously. Victorian London is split into chapters, each dealing with an aspect of London life ... Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Liza Picard was born in 1927. She read law at the London School of Economics and was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn, but did not practice. She worked in London for many years in the office of the Solicitor of Inland Revenue until she retired in 1987. She now lives in Oxford. Picard is also the author of the critically acclaimed Elizabeth's London, Restoration London and Dr. Johnson's London.

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