Tuesday 30 January 2007

Maps in Print

Reynolds Map, 1895 MAPS IN PRINT

A reader inquires whether I can supply a print copy of the 1895 Reynolds Map of London. The short answer is no; but anyone on the look-out for print maps of Victorian London should try
1. www.abebooks.com ... search under "London" and "Map" or "atlas" in the title and limit years ... this will find lots of Victorian London street maps (often rather expensive, as some are collectors items)
2. www.motco.com sell print reproductions of sections of the incredible 1862 Stanford map.
3. The LSE Archive sell print reproductions of sections of the 1898-9 Booth Poverty Maps.
4. An extensive 1888 Bacon map has been reprinted in book form.
5. www.oldhousebooks.co.uk also sell a reprint of an 1840s map, and Baedecker guides from the end of the century.
I'd be interested to know of other reprints, if anyone has come across them.



Looking into the Holborn Casino again, I stumble across another instance of men appearing as women in Victorian night-spots (see here) ... the defence when prosecuted was invariably that it was done "for a wager" or "for a lark". Women dressing as men seems to have been a little rarer, but not unheard of. The general response in court seems to have been as much wry amusement and simple confusion, as anything else. For fictional treatment, of course, see Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet.

Monday 29 January 2007

Keats House


London is blessed with a unique range of small museums, and so I may highlight the odd one on this blog from time to time. The first is Keats House. It's Georgian, rather than Victorian, but as I've visited there recently, making use of its wall-paper and chaise-longue for a photo-shoot, I feel obliged to sing its praises. It does give a feel for the sort of leafy middle-class suburbia that existed around London before the Victorian developments of the mid-(19th)century. Well worth a visit.

Saturday 27 January 2007

Holborn Haunts

Holborn map

A reader inquires about the location of the Holborn Casino, an infamous dance-hall/night-club of the 1860s/1870s which features in my third novel, The Welfare of the Dead. It was replaced by the Holborn Restaurant and was located in the area opposite today's Holborn tube station. The map attached shows Holborn in 1899 ... Kingsway was not yet built, with slums still around Great Wild Street and Clare Market in the south. Also a lost theatre, the Jodrell; two lost music halls, the Royal and the seemingly tiny Middlesex. Plus, if you look closely, an intimation of the British Museum Station on the new central line, which would appear in mid 1900. For the rest of the Pocket Map of London (very good on theatres) see my site.

Wednesday 24 January 2007

John Snow


I keep meaning to note this recently published title - 'The Ghost Map' - although it's hardly the first one on John Snow and cholera. Still, it seems to be doing well. For a good site on all things Snow, see this long-standing website on the subject, which includes broader material on Victorian London.

Tuesday 23 January 2007

Christmas, Belated


It's comforting to know, as we recover in January, that the Victorian Christmas was as excessive as our own - from turn-of-the-century complaints about Christmas starting early ("The note of preparation for the great festival of the Christian Church, which was sounded early in November when the windows of the stationers, the booksellers' shops, and the railway stalls became suddenly gay with the coloured plates of Christmas numbers ") to the vast consumption of food and drink. I mention it now, because I just came across the attached in Cruikshank (1841 Comic Almanack) - as always, one is left with the impression that nothing changes.

Sunday 21 January 2007

Dumb Edwardians?

Diary of a Nobody - The LaurelsDUMB EDWARDIANS?

Do I object to 'dumbing-down' in arts broadcasting? I don't know ... broadcasters' interest in all things Victorian has now trickled down to the Edwardian era in BBC4's forthcoming season of very loosely connected programmes. The good news is a new adaptation of The Diary of a Nobody (yes, people have already pointed out its not Edwardian). The bad news includes titles such as Edwardian SuperSize Me. Hopefully better than it sounds.

Saturday 20 January 2007

London Architecture Lectures


Victorian enthusiasts may be interested in this lecture series which provides an introduction to various architects who most influenced the modern capital. In particular, Charles Barry and George Gilbert Scott are included. I may well attend the latter - I'm a great admirer of his work, as I live in sight of one of Scott's great achievements, trifling in comparison to St. Pancras, but stunningly beautiful.

Friday 19 January 2007

Cruikshank's Comic Almanack


Cruikshank's Comic Almanack includes, amongst a lot of Victorian humorous prose (which doesn't generally seem very funny today) a cartoon for each month of the year, which I do tend to find fascinating ... not so much for their humour as the marvellous detail. My favourite for humour is, however, November 1838's 'Guys in Council', presaging Larson's "Far Side" et al. To browse all the months from 1835-1838, see the page I've created, as promised below.

Thursday 18 January 2007

Picture Libraries

Maskelyne and CookePICTURE LIBRARIES

There are some great commercial picture libraries on the web, which the casual browser can enjoy, even if they don't want to buy the pictures. I've listed some on my Links page but a new one (for my list, at least) is the British Library Picture Library. To take a very random example, a search for 'Maskelyne' (the famous magician of 'Maskelyne and Cooke' fame) found four striking advertisements for his shows (see example, right). I hope no-one at the BL minds me linking to the small-scale image for demonstration purposes (if so, let me know!) ... all such digitised material is, of course, copyright of the library.

Wednesday 17 January 2007


Parish Boundaries 1877MAPS

A site after my own heart is MAPCO and, of course, the London section. I've just noticed that there's three new Victorian maps on there, since I last looked, and have added them to my own list. These include a beautifully detailed map of all parish boundaries in 1877 - great stuff!

Tuesday 16 January 2007

Audio Versions

Audio Versions

The Last Pleasure GardenJust a quick note to say that the audio cassette version of The Last Pleasure Garden is now available. You can order the cassettes or listen to a snippet online. I'm told that digital audio/mp3 versions of my books (and others by the same publisher) will be released in due course but, until then, if you want to hear me on the bus, drop your Ipod and retrieve your 1980s Walkman from the cupboard. [well, I still have mine ...]

Monday 15 January 2007

Cartes de Visite

A Cartes de VisiteCartes de Visite

The premier site for these fascinating calling-cards used by middle and upper class Victorians is here, but my friend Ken Page has graciously donated 13 digitised cartes of his own to the Victorian Dictionary. Enjoy!

Sunday 14 January 2007

Heffers Bookshop

Heffers BookshopHeffers Bookshop, Cambridge - 22nd February

A quick note to say that I will be 'appearing' at Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge (UK) as part of their Crime through Time evening on February 22nd 2007. It's an annual event (there is a parallel general crime night 'Bodies in the Bookshop' in the summer) where 'historical crime' writers gather, chat and mingle with anyone who turns up. There's normally two dozen writers there, often overwhelming the public, signing books and talking shop. I fear, in fact, that the authors enjoy it more than anyone else ... but do come along!

Fish Scales

Fish Scale EmbroideryFish Scales

Today a reader inquired after 'Fish-Scale Embroidery' in Cassells Household Guide. The Guide is a great book - one of the principal 'bibles' of the Victorian middle-class housewife, published in umpteen editions, originally in serial form. I've listed the contents but it's too vast to fully digitise, for the moment at least, short of employing an army of trained monkeys. I was, however, happy to digitise the brief section involved. I naively assumed that 'Fish-Scale' was a metaphor for a particular stitch or similar - how wrong I was! So, for how to produce 'exquisite' embroidery with, erm, fish, see the relevant section of the Guide.

Saturday 13 January 2007

Cruikshank's Comic Almanack

Cruikshank's Comic Almanack

Cruickshank's April Showers

A teaser for forthcoming pics on www.victorianlondon.org ... a complete set of the 'months' in the great cartoonist's Almanack, 1835-38, and some other selections. What I love about Cruikshank is the level of painterly detail that goes into every cartoon. Above is April 1835 (on the theme of April showers) - note the "Umbrella Depot" ... certainly Victorian shops were commonly called "Warehouses" (eg. "Jay's Mourning Warehouse") and I suspect "Depot" was commonplace too.

Friday 12 January 2007

Regent Street Photograph

Regent Street Photograph
Edwardian Regent StreetGood photographs of Victorian London are hard to come by, and even when I find 'Views of London'-type books, originally aimed at tourists, I tend to snap them up for www.victorianlondon.org. A small handful from The Premier Photographic View Album of London, 1907 are now on the site (see the Bibliography) but I most like the detail above from the Regent Street photograph. In truth, it's probably Edwardian. In any case, notice the car amongst all the horse traffic (see Transport for more on cars - they first appeared in 1896 or thereabouts), the policeman on the right (directing pedestrians?) and the little boy sitting on the back step (what is the proper word for this?) of the landau as it rattles along!

Thursday 11 January 2007

Dickens in France

Dickens on FranceDickens in France

A reader directs me to an interesting anthology of Dickens's writing on France and the French.

"Dickens on France brings together short stories, extracts from novels and travel writing. Among its journalistic highlights are accounts of a train journey from London to Paris, a rough Channel crossing, the pleasures of Boulogne, and Parisian life in the 1850s and 1860s. Extracts from the travelogue Pictures from Italy take us by coach from Paris to Marseille. The selected short stories include “His Boots”, a section of “Mrs Lirriper’s Legacy” and “The Boy at Mugby”, and there are extracts from A Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Nicholas Nickleby, and Our Mutual Friend."

Wednesday 10 January 2007

New to the Victorian Dictionary : Mystic London

New to the Victorian Dictionary

Mystic London by Charles Maurice Davies (1828-1910) - a bizarre study of London life, with a good deal on spiritualism (viewed with a mixture of skepticism and interest) but also, for example, covering emigration to Canada, a lady mesmerist, a visit to the home of a murderer and much more. Also the author of 'Unorthodox London: Or, Phases of Religious Life in the Metropolis'. According to the DNB Davies was a priest who abandoned holy orders in the 1880s.

Two Exhibitions

The Fair Toxophilites, William Frith, 1872 (not sure if this particular picture is at this exhibition, mind you, ed.)Two Exhibitions

London : A Life in Maps (until 4 March 2007)
A British Library showcase of London maps. The virtual exhibition links through to the Collect Britain site, which is worth a look in itself

William Powell Frith : Painting the Victorian Age (until 4 March 2007)
An exhibition of the great painter at the Guildhall Art Gallery.

Lord Leighton's Drawings Online

Lord Leighton's Drawings Online

Here is a new web site from the good people at the Leighton House Museum, enabling a search of Leighton's pencil drawings etc. world-wide. The museum itself is well worth a visit.