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"To certain squeamish readers this useful and well-written volume will prove an unsavoury book; and even to those who have the nerve to witness agony and explore the lurking-places of crime, it will occasion no ordinary sadness and sense of repugnance. Redolent with the unwholesome smell of ill-drained alleys and over-crowded dwellings for the poor, it resounds in every ch "To certain squeamish readers this useful and well-written volume will prove an unsavoury book; and even to those who have the nerve to witness agony and explore the lurking-places of crime, it will occasion no ordinary sadness and sense of repugnance. Redolent with the unwholesome smell of ill-drained alleys and over-crowded dwellings for the poor, it resounds in every chapter with the cries of violence and the mutterings of woe ..." [review of The Seven Curses of London from the Athenaeum, 1869] James Greenwood (c.1835-1927) was one of eleven children, born to a Lambeth coach trimmer. His elder brother Frederick, initially apprenticed to a publishing/printing firm, became a writer and editor; and it was under his brother's guidance that Greenwood wrote an article entitled 'A Night in a Workhouse' (pub. Pall Mall Gazette, 12-15 January 1866). This was a ground-breaking piece of undercover reporting, in which Greenwood spent the night in a 'casual ward' disguised as a pauper. In the style of the period, the article was anonymous, with Greenwood bestowing on himself the soubriquet of 'The Amateur Casual'. The article's exposé of maladministration and wretched conditions — and the exotic manner in which the information was gathered — sealed the author's reputation overnight. Greenwood would continue to expose various aspects of London 'low life' for several decades, writing for the Pall Mall Gazette and then the Daily Telegraph. Many of these were anthologised into book form, but The Seven Curses of London was written as a single campaigning work, designed to stimulate debate about the manifold evils which beset the urban poor. It is not, however, a simple tract and the book includes many of the staples of Greenwood's distinctive style of journalism, including investigative reporting and interviews. The 'Curses' themselves are: 1. Neglected Children 2. Professional Thieves 3. Professional Beggars 4. Fallen Women 5. Drunkenness 6. Betting Gamblers 7. Waste of Charity. There is more of Greenwood's 'undercover' work, including a visit to a 'baby-farmer' — one of those women who advertised in the press to 'adopt' unwanted children for a fee (the fate of such unfortunates was often criminal abuse or neglect). Other vivid passages include interviews with convicts; begging-letter writers; harangues against the corrupting influence of penny dreadfuls (sample prose: "... pouting coral lips, in which a thousand tiny imps of love are lurking ..."); the unfortunate class of prostitutes known as 'dress-lodgers'; a full list of the ingredients used to adulterate beer ("... Multum is a mixture of opium and other ingredients, used to increase the intoxicating qualities of the liquor ... "); a survey of betting scams ("... Mr. Ben W. will forfeit £500 if he does not send first and second for the Chester Cup. Send four stamps and stamped envelope, and promise a present, and I will send you the Chester Cup, Great Northern, Derby, and Oaks winners ...") and a good deal more. All of these combine to paint a revealing picture of life in 1860s London, making this book worthy of your attention. Lee Jackson


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"To certain squeamish readers this useful and well-written volume will prove an unsavoury book; and even to those who have the nerve to witness agony and explore the lurking-places of crime, it will occasion no ordinary sadness and sense of repugnance. Redolent with the unwholesome smell of ill-drained alleys and over-crowded dwellings for the poor, it resounds in every ch "To certain squeamish readers this useful and well-written volume will prove an unsavoury book; and even to those who have the nerve to witness agony and explore the lurking-places of crime, it will occasion no ordinary sadness and sense of repugnance. Redolent with the unwholesome smell of ill-drained alleys and over-crowded dwellings for the poor, it resounds in every chapter with the cries of violence and the mutterings of woe ..." [review of The Seven Curses of London from the Athenaeum, 1869] James Greenwood (c.1835-1927) was one of eleven children, born to a Lambeth coach trimmer. His elder brother Frederick, initially apprenticed to a publishing/printing firm, became a writer and editor; and it was under his brother's guidance that Greenwood wrote an article entitled 'A Night in a Workhouse' (pub. Pall Mall Gazette, 12-15 January 1866). This was a ground-breaking piece of undercover reporting, in which Greenwood spent the night in a 'casual ward' disguised as a pauper. In the style of the period, the article was anonymous, with Greenwood bestowing on himself the soubriquet of 'The Amateur Casual'. The article's exposé of maladministration and wretched conditions — and the exotic manner in which the information was gathered — sealed the author's reputation overnight. Greenwood would continue to expose various aspects of London 'low life' for several decades, writing for the Pall Mall Gazette and then the Daily Telegraph. Many of these were anthologised into book form, but The Seven Curses of London was written as a single campaigning work, designed to stimulate debate about the manifold evils which beset the urban poor. It is not, however, a simple tract and the book includes many of the staples of Greenwood's distinctive style of journalism, including investigative reporting and interviews. The 'Curses' themselves are: 1. Neglected Children 2. Professional Thieves 3. Professional Beggars 4. Fallen Women 5. Drunkenness 6. Betting Gamblers 7. Waste of Charity. There is more of Greenwood's 'undercover' work, including a visit to a 'baby-farmer' — one of those women who advertised in the press to 'adopt' unwanted children for a fee (the fate of such unfortunates was often criminal abuse or neglect). Other vivid passages include interviews with convicts; begging-letter writers; harangues against the corrupting influence of penny dreadfuls (sample prose: "... pouting coral lips, in which a thousand tiny imps of love are lurking ..."); the unfortunate class of prostitutes known as 'dress-lodgers'; a full list of the ingredients used to adulterate beer ("... Multum is a mixture of opium and other ingredients, used to increase the intoxicating qualities of the liquor ... "); a survey of betting scams ("... Mr. Ben W. will forfeit £500 if he does not send first and second for the Chester Cup. Send four stamps and stamped envelope, and promise a present, and I will send you the Chester Cup, Great Northern, Derby, and Oaks winners ...") and a good deal more. All of these combine to paint a revealing picture of life in 1860s London, making this book worthy of your attention. Lee Jackson

30 review for The Seven Curses of London (Victorian London Ebooks Book 5)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Frederick

    This is a dated and very opinionated work on the dark side of London in the middle of the 19th century. It is valuable, not just for its information but for its viewpoint as being representative of a type of reformer. I’ve seen Greenwood, the author, referred to as a, “social explorer,” and a journalist. He paints a pretty bleak but believable, based on other works I’ve read, picture of Victorian London. I would say this is important social history for students of that era.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Informative, but altogether quite a mind-numbing read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    R.V. Raiment

    It's a useful resource for writers interested in the Victorian era. Nothing special. It's a useful resource for writers interested in the Victorian era. Nothing special.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cory

    This book was suggested reading for anyone interested in The Jack The Ripper case. It was a good overview of London at the time of the killings, but very dry.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Interesting facts, but told in very dry style. Not as entertaining as his other books.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leanne

    There was actually an interesting debate going on then around sexual 'immorality', and it wasn't all moral condemnation. Who knew?? These books are amazing. Yay for epublishing. There was actually an interesting debate going on then around sexual 'immorality', and it wasn't all moral condemnation. Who knew?? These books are amazing. Yay for epublishing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura Osborne

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Kinnaird

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Jones

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Martin-McClure

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shadrach

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

  13. 5 out of 5

    Earl Heather

  14. 4 out of 5

    Toed Cramp

  15. 4 out of 5

    Briony

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  18. 4 out of 5

    D.J. Stone

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diane Seary

  20. 5 out of 5

    The Book Guzzler

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pompeia Lil

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lena

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jacky

  24. 4 out of 5

    John B Grenfell

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve Marland

  26. 5 out of 5

    MArgaret Mary Donnelly

  27. 5 out of 5

    L. P.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Lyons

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen Seex

  30. 4 out of 5

    jim ludlam

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