By Ross Gilfillan
'Crime loomed huge within the minds of Victorian Londoners. all around the urban, watches, handbags and handkerchiefs disappear from wallet, items migrate from warehouses, off docks and out of store home windows. Burglaries are rife, shoplifting is carried on in West finish shops and folks fall sufferer to all types of inventive swindles. 'Pornographers proliferate and an envisioned 80,000 prostitutes function on London's streets. The weak are robbed in darkish alleys or garroted, a brand new form of mugging within which the sufferer is half-strangled from in the back of whereas being stripped of his possessions...' Discover Victorian London's dirty rookeries, domestic to millions of the city's poorest and such a lot determined citizens. discover the crime-ridden slums, flash homes and gin palaces from a special street-level view and meet the folks who inhabited them. Ross Gilfillan uncovers London's misplaced legal prior during this attention-grabbing account of 19th century low-life. Come...
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Extra info for Crime and Punishment in Victorian London. A Street-Level of the City's Underworld
These “street arabs” are to be seen “in vast shoals” at the street markets, loitering with clear intent by shops whose wares are displayed in the street and doorway and prowling in districts in which it might be possible to steal fruit and comestibles from costermongers’ barrows, knock a female stall-holder from her seat and snatch the few pennies on her counter, take trinkets from a tray or play on the sympathies of anyone who might be parted from some loose change. Some children have been sent out to steal – often at the tender age of only six or seven – and some are hungry, while others are egged on by their mischievous friends.
Dick’s lodging house is much like the 200 others Mayhew counts in this and other low-rent areas. Homes for labourers, costermongers, pedlars and anyone else who can afford nothing better, some are actually quite clean and respectable places. The lower ground floor is often the common room, in which there may be deal tables and forms to sit on. A constantly burning fire provides somewhere for the residents to cook their meals – typically a bit of fish to go with potatoes, bread and a jug of tea – and a place to dry wet clothes.
Toby doesn’t say why he started stealing, but at a fair in Reading, he comes across a sleeping drunk and pilfers his boots and handkerchief. The same day, he is able to pawn the boots at Windsor for three shillings and the handkerchief for one shilling. Dumping the hard and precarious life of a Cheap Jack’s assistant, Toby heads for London, where he lives in seedy lodging houses and tries to make a living as a street singer of popular ballads such as ‘The Dark-eyed Sailor’ and the dubious-sounding ‘The Female Cabin Boy’.