The ‘shock city’ of the 18th century , London was always interesting to onlookers, but between 1763 and 1776 it was particularly interesting. It was the capital city of one of the most successful Great Powers, one that had just emerged the winner in the war with France.
Metropolitan underworlds, where the illicit and illegal rub up against the grime and extreme poverty of those at the bottom of society, have always fascinated contemporaries and later audiences. This is particularly true of the Victorian underworld in London.
Over the past generation of scholarship, the history of consumption and material culture has emerged as a rich subfield of European history.
This year witnesses the publication of the 100th monograph in the Studies in Imperialism series published by Manchester University Press and edited by John Mackenzie.
Jonathan Jeffrey Wright’s The ‘Natural Leaders’ and their World is an important contribution to the history of Belfast as well as to the broader subjects of Ulster liberalism and Presbyterianism.
What a great idea! The only wonder is why no publishing house thought of commissioning a book on the topic before. The reader’s delight starts straight from looking at the cover illustration – a ‘translation’ of Harry Beck’s celebrated London Tube Map, in which Waterloo Station becomes Gare de Napoléon.
This formidable and scholarly volume, a major contribution to urban, social and cultural history, is first and foremost a tribute to one of its co-authors, Charles McKean, the distinguished architectural historian, who sadly died when the book was being written.
By Accident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropolis is an absorbing and complex piece of work. In it, Paul Fyfe argues that accidents not only shaped Victorian cities, but also played a role in shaping written forms and literary genres, from newspaper layouts to the 19th-century novel.
Extraordinarily, Nick Daly’s The Demographic Imagination and the Nineteenth Century is the 97th book published in CUP’s ‘Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture’ series, under the general editorship of Gillian Beer.
Towards the end of this fascinating study, Heather Shore reflects on the difficulty of ‘trying to uncover or reconstruct something that does not exist in a concrete form’ (p. 192). For Shore, the ‘underworld’ is a ‘cipher’, through which the press, the police, the government, and the wider society represents, and tries to understand, crime as a social problem.