The first book in a hundred years to examine the greatest century in London's history.
London in the nineteenth century was the greatest city mankind had ever seen. Its growth was stupendous. Its wealth was dazzling. Its horrors shocked the world. In one hour’s walk from west to east, London revealed a cavalcade of life chances - from all the prizes that civilisation could offer on the one hand to a barbarous struggle for existence on the other. As William Blake put it, London was ‘a Human awful wonder of God’. The nineteenth century was London’s greatest so far. It was a century of genius - poets, novelists, journalists in the front rank, but also architects, scientists, philanthropists, and politicians too. This was the London of Blake, Thackeray and Mayhew, of Nash, Faraday, Barnardo and Disraeli. Most of all it was the London of Dickens. And it was in the nineteenth century that Londoners began to address the contradictions and extremes of metropolitan life and try to impose some order on their turbulent city. The story of London in these hectic decades must first of all uncover how far the war on disorder succeeded. And how far it failed.
Jerry White’s dazzling new book is the first in a hundred years to explore London’s history over the nineteenth century as a whole. We see the destruction of old London and the city’s unparalleled suburban expansion. We see how London absorbed people from all over Britain, from Europe and the Empire. We see how Londoners worked and played. Most of all, we see how they tried to make sense of their city and make it a better place in which to live. Emerging clearly from this eloquent and richly-detailed overview is the London we see about us today.