From Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor

UPDATE:  I am noticing that, ever since I explained that I didn’t like writing book reviews in my post My Favorite Mystery Writers: A List, I have been getting ever closer to writing them.  Which is weird.

Hello!  So, I spend way too much time on the Internet Archive (; in my not-so-humble opinion, it is the best place on the Internet), looking at pictures in books I’d never dare to touch in real life, for fear of leaving Grubby Fingerprints on The Past.  Since these books are in the glorious Public Domain, I can, I believe, extract some of my favorite pictures from them and post them up here.  Here is a small batch of pictures from Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (1861).

By the way, Mayhew was one of the founders of Punch Magazine, and his book is part serious sociological study, part humorous wanderings among colorful characters, and part Mayhew enjoying the hell out of himself.  It is worth a look; I recommend especially his discussion of the language of coster-mongers.

Also by the way, any Steampunk-Inclined Persons should take a gander at the Long-Song Seller, do some research, and consider attending some Steampunk Event in this no doubt delightful persona.  You would, I think, be A Hit.  Heck, I’m considering doing something of the sort myself… we shall see…

Also, have you read The Wrong Box, by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne?  It is insanely funny; if you are an audiobook fan (I am), you can listen to it here for free, read by the excellent Andy Minter.  Anyway, I wonder if the character of Joseph Finsbury in this splendid novel could be based on Henry Mayhew.  They seem to be engaged in the same kind of work, and Stevenson and Osbourne would have had to know about Mayhew- Punch was, as far as I can ascertain, positively EVERYWHERE back then (though I think Mayhew severed his connected to the magazine at some point).


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