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December 19, 2020 at 3:39 pm #154039Emma SalvaneraGuest
The Blackest Streets
The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum
by Sarah Wise
- Publisher: Metropolitan Books
- Genres: history, victorian, historical, research, poverty, sociology
- Author: Sarah Wise
- Awards: The Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize Nominee (2009)
- Release date: May 1, 2010
- Language: english
- Format: hardcover, 352 pages
- ISBN: 9780805075380 (0805075380)
About The Book
An enthralling account of the most notorious slum in Victorian England — and how it became a laboratory for “reforming” the poor
Condemned as a “fruitful hotbed of disease and death,” the Old Nichol, a fifteen-acre East London slum, was a shameful blot on the age of progress. A maze of rotting hundred-year-old houses, the Old Nichol suffered rampant crime and a death rate four times that of London. Among the more piquant discoveries of an 1887 government inquiry was that the owners of these fetid dwellings included lords, lawyers, even churchmen.
Drawing on a rich archival store, Sarah Wise reconstructs the Old Nichol and the lives of its 6,000 inhabitants — the woodworkers, fish smokers, and dog dealers, whose tiny rooms doubled as workshops and farmyards. She depicts as well the eugenicists, anarchists, and philanthropists who ventured into the Old Nichol to “save” the poor with such theories as emigration and sterilization. The winning solution was demolition: the Old Nichol was replaced with a new, hygienic settlement — in which only eleven of the original residents could afford to live. Widely praised as a sensitive chronicler of the poor, Wise captures the moment when the poor turned from public nuisance into social experiment.
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