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About the Author: Henry Mayhew

Henry Mayhew was an English social researcher, journalist, playwright and advocate of reform. He was one of the co-founders of the satirical and humorous magazine Punch in 1841. He is also known for his work as a social researcher, publishing an extensive series of newspaper articles in the Morning Chronicle that was later compiled into the book series London Labour and the London Poor (1851), a groundbreaking and influential survey of the city's poor.


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Goodreads rating: 4.11

Paperback, Published in Mar 2008 by Wordsworth Classics

ISBN10: 1840226196 | ISBN13: 9781840226195

Page count: 636

With an Introduction by Rosemary O'Day.

London Labour and the London Poor is a masterpiece of personal inquiry and social observation. It is the classic account of life below the margins in the greatest Metropolis in the world and a compelling portrait of the habits, tastes, amusements, appearance, speech, humour, earnings and opinions of the labouring poor at the time of the Great Exhibition.

In scope, depth and detail it remains unrivalled. Mayhew takes us into the abyss, into a world without fixed employment where skills are declining and insecurity mounting, a world of criminality, pauperism and vice, of unorthodox personal relations and fluid families, a world from which regularity is absent and prosperity has departed. Making sense of this environment required curiosity, imagination and a novelist's eye for detail, and Henry Mayhew possessed all three.

No previous writer had succeeded in presenting the poor through their own stories and in their own words, and in this undertaking Mayhew rivals his contemporary Dickens. 'To pass from one to the other', writes one authority, ' is to cross sides of the same street'.

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