Books

Of Street Piemen

Henry Mayhew

'...a good bit of spice to give the critlings a flavour, and plenty of treacle to make the mince-meat look rich'

Radical Victorian reformer Henry Mayhew walked the streets of London interviewing ordinary flower girls, market traders, piemen and costermongers to create the first ever work of mass social observation, and the ultimate account of urban life - including an extraordinary description of the city from a hot air balloon.

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions.

Henry Mayhew (1812-1887). Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor is available in Penguin Classics.

London Labour and the London Poor

Victor Neuburg (and others)

London Labour and the London Poor originated in a series of newspaper articles written by the great journalist Henry Mayhew between 1849 and 1850. A dozen years later, it had grown into the fullest picture we have of labouring people in the world's greatest city in the nineteenth century: a four volume account of the hopes, customs, grievances and habits of the working-classes that allows them to tell their own stories. Combining practicality with compassion, Mayhew worked unencumbered by political theory and strove solely to report on the lives of the London poor, their occupations and trades. This selection shows how well he succeeded. From costermongers to ex-convicts, from chimney-sweeps to vagrants, the underprivileged of London are uniquely brought to life - their plight expressed through a startling blend of first person accounts, Mayhew's perceptions, and sharp statistics.

Biography

Henry Mayhew (1812-1887). Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor is available in Penguin Classics.