For Londoners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, debt was a part of everyday life. But when your creditors lost their patience, you might be thrown into one of the capital’s most notorious jails: the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison.
In Mansions of Misery, acclaimed chronicler of the capital Jerry White introduces us to the Marshalsea’s unfortunate prisoners – rich and poor; men and women; spongers, fraudsters and innocents. We get to know the trumpeter John Grano who wined and dined with the prison governor and continued to compose music whilst other prisoners were tortured and starved to death. We meet the bare-knuckle fighter known as the Bold Smuggler, who fell on hard times after being beaten by the Chelsea Snob. And then there’s Joshua Reeve Lowe, who saved Queen Victoria from assassination in Hyde Park in 1820, but whose heroism couldn’t save him from the Marshalsea. Told through these extraordinary lives, Mansions of Misery gives us a fascinating and unforgettable cross-section of London life from the early 1700s to the 1840s.
Jerry White's London in the Eighteenth Century is an unrivalled, panoramic account of the city's dramatic century of rebirth by its leading expert.
London in the eighteenth century had risen from the ashes. The city and its people had been brought to the brink by the Great Fire of 1666. But the century that followed was a period of vigorous expansion, of scientific and artistic genius, of blossoming reason, civility, elegance and manners. It was also an age of extremes: of starving poverty and exquisite fashion, of joy and despair, of sentiment and cruelty.
In Jerry White’s acclaimed history of London’s magnificent and boisterous rebirth we witness the astonishing drama of daily life in the midst of this burgeoning city.
Jerry White's London in the Twentieth Century, Winner of the Wolfson Prize, is a masterful account of the city’s most tumultuous century by its leading expert.
In 1901 no other city matched London in size, wealth and grandeur. Yet it was also a city where poverty and disease were rife. For its inhabitants, such contradictions and diversity were the defining experience of the next century of dazzling change.
In the worlds of work and popular culture, politics and crime, through war, immigration and sexual revolution, Jerry White’s richly detailed and captivating history shows how the city shaped their lives and how it in turn was shaped by them.
Jerry White's London in the Nineteenth Century is the richest and most absorbing account of the city's greatest century by its leading expert.
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. This was the London of Blake, Thackeray and Mayhew, of Nash, Faraday and Disraeli. Most of all it was the London of Dickens. As William Blake put it, London was 'a Human awful wonder of God'.
In Jerry White's dazzling history we witness the city's unparalleled metamorphosis over the course of the century through the daily lives of its inhabitants. We see how Londoners worked, played, and adapted to the demands of the metropolis during this century of dizzying change. The result is a panorama teeming with life.
A Guardian Best Book of the Year 2014
11pm, Tuesday 4 August 1914: with the declaration of war London becomes one of the greatest killing machines in human history. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers pass through the capital on their way to the front; wounded men are brought back to be treated in London’s hospitals; and millions of shells are produced in its factories.
The war changes London life for ever. Women escape the drudgery of domestic service to work as munitionettes. Full employment puts money into the pockets of the London poor for the first time. Self-appointed moral guardians seize the chance to clamp down on drink, frivolous entertainment and licentious behaviour. As the war drags on, gloom often descends on the capital. And at night London is plunged into darkness for fear of German bombers and Zeppelins that continue to raid the city.
Yet despite daily casualty lists, food shortages and enemy bombing, Londoners are determined to get on with their lives and flock to cinemas and theatres, dance halls and shebeens, firmly resolved not to let Germans or puritans spoil their enjoyment.
Peopled with patriots and pacifists, clergymen and thieves, bluestockings and prostitutes, Jerry White’s magnificent panorama reveals a struggling yet flourishing city.
From the 1880s to the Second World War, Campbell Road, Finsbury Park (known as Campbell Bunk), had a notorious reputation for violence, for breeding thieves and prostitutes, and for an enthusiastic disregard for law and order. It was the object of reform by church, magistrates, local authorities, and social scientists, who left many traces of their attempts to improve what became known as 'the worst street in North London'.
Jerry White offers insight into the realities of life in a 'slum' community, showing how it changed over a 90-year period. Using extensive oral history to describe in detail the years between the wars, White reveals the complex tensions between the new world opening up and the street's traditional culture of economic individualism, crime, street theatre, and domestic violence.
Winner of the Jewish Chronicle Harold H. Wingate Literary Award.
Rothschild Buildings were typical of the 'model dwellings for the working classes' which were such an important part of the response to late-Victorian London's housing problem. They were built for poor but respectable Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, and the community which put down roots there was to be characteristic of the East End Jewish working class in its formative years.
By talking to people who grew up in the Buildings in the 1890s and after, and using untapped documentary evidence from a wide range of public and private sources, the author re-creates the richly detailed life of that community and its relations with the economy and culture around it. The book shows how cramped and austere housing was made into homes; how the mechanism of class domination, of which the Buildings were part, was both accepted and fought against; how a close community was riven with constantly shifting tensions; and how that community co-existed in surprising ways with the East End casual poor of 'outcast London'.
It provides unique and fascinating insights into immigrant and working-class life at the turn of the last century.
Professor Jerry White teaches London history at Birkbeck, University of London. He is the author of an acclaimed trilogy of London from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. His more recent books include Mansions of Misery: A Biography of the Marshalsea Debtors' Prison and Zeppelin Nights, a social history of London during the First World War. He was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by the University of London in 2005 and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.