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Fiction Classics

London Labour and the London Poor

Selected Edition

by (author) Henry Mayhew

edited by Barbara Leckie & Janice Schroeder

Broadview Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2019
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price

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Produced between 1850 and 1862, London Labour and the London Poor is one of the most significant examples of nineteenth-century oral history. The collection teems with the minute particulars of the everyday—bits and pieces of London lives assembled into a precarious whole by the author, editor, and principal investigator, Henry Mayhew. Mayhew was interested in the social fabric of people’s lives, their labour and earnings, but also their families, education, leisure time, and religious beliefs. What gives his “case studies” such immediacy is that they seem to flow unprompted and uninterrupted from the mouths of his subjects: street sellers, dock labourers, musicians, rat catchers, vagrants, chimney sweeps, thieves, and prostitutes.

All are captured in this newly annotated and selected edition of Mayhew’s four-volume work. Historical appendices include a contemporary map of London, reviews of London Labour, and other slum journalism from the period.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Janice Schroeder is Associate Professor of English at Carleton University. Barbara Leckie is Professor in the Department of English and the Institute for the Comparative Study of Literature, Art, and Culture at Carleton University.

Editorial Reviews

“Janice Schroeder and Barbara Leckie’s Introduction sets the agenda for new directions in Mayhew studies by highlighting London Labour’s and Mayhew’s attention to ecology, sustainability, and print culture, questions that were fertile in mid-century Britain and are essential intellectual and political frameworks today. And their selections from London Labour, Mayhew’s Morning Chronicle articles, his responses to respondents, and work by contemporary ‘slum journalists’ have inspired me to teach a course with London Labour at its center. This volume offers treasures, equally to those just discovering Mayhew and to those who have encountered his work before. This is the edition of Mayhew selections to get—a Mayhew for our times.” — Priti Joshi, University of Puget Sound

“Henry Mayhew investigated the Victorian London poor as a social scientist and wrote up his results as a journalist. The results, London Labour and the London Poor and his earlier contributions to theMorning Chronicle, are works in progress which he never revised, and ultimately abandoned. The combination of somewhat incompatible methods and unfinished projects has made his work difficult to understand in its totality. But now, thanks to the careful editors Janice Schroeder and Barbara Leckie and to Broadview Press, we finally have a scholarly edition, with carefully chosen and thoroughly annotated interviews and other material, appendices providing context and commentary, and new ways to read Mayhew’s work, which will enable students, scholars, and general readers alike to grasp the whole with confidence and pleasure.” — Anne Humpherys, City University of New York

“This new edition of a heavily studied and well-documented text invites a new generation of ecocritical scholars to envision Mayhew as more than a socio-political campaigner and successful author. Schroeder and Leckie’s selections from London Labour and the London Poor reveal Mayhew to be an environmentalist, a visionary, and an arch manipulator of both factual and fictional material.” — Tamara Kaminsky, Victorian Periodicals Review

Other titles by Barbara Leckie