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Summary

London Labour and the London Poor is a rare and fascinating insight into the lives and struggles of the 19th-century poor. Written by journalist and reformer Henry Mayhew, a founder and editor of the satirical magazine Punch, it collects hundreds of testimonials from the lower strata of Victorian society. We encounter street entertainers, 'pure finders', cabinetmakers, gingerbread sellers, 'screeve-fakers', swindlers, and burglars. We hear accounts from toshers finding items in sewers, people attempting to train pigs to dance, and witness the sale of everything from gilt watches and chickweed to needles, dog collars, and eel soup. It is a remarkable work, said to have inspired the socially conscious fiction of Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray, who described it as 'a picture of human life so wonderful, so awful, so piteous and pathetic, so exciting and terrible, that readers of romances own they never read anything like to it'.  

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Public Domain (P)2018 Naxos Audiobooks

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1840s London brought to life

This is one of the most important social history books of the last 200 years. David Timson is a brilliant narrator. His characterisations of individual interviewees are engaging & altogether excellent. Highly recommended.

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Essential reading

A fantastic edit of the original work. Essential reading for anyone interested in labour rights.

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Travel through time to 1840's London.

I've always loved Mayhew - especially for faithfully recording, for the first time, the voices of the 'people of the abyss'. The narration is excellent; David Timson's vocalisations of the downtrodden and weary has real variation and pathos. My only (very slight) criticism is that this edition leaves out many of Mayhew's interviews. However it makes up for it by including much fascinating material, including some of his correspondence with readers. If you've been hooked by Mayhew's ability to take you back in time and hear the voices of the day to day folk of early Victorian London, you won't be disappointed.

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Excellent

This was the first time I approached this work, although I had seen and heard it mentioned many times on other media. An abridged version of Mayhew's mammoth social research effort, it really brings the subject matter to life, also thanks to the outstanding performance by Mr Timson. Thank you.

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  • Count B
  • 06-06-20

THE BEST BOOK ON VICTORIAN LONDON

I’ve bought them all and this is by far and away the best. The interviews with actual Victorians are beautifully narrated and it takes you back in time. Most other books get bogged down with data. This actually has life and feeling. Just wonderful.

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