Stephen Halliday has followed up his study of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, The Great Stink of London, with a wider study of how Victorian engineers and other innovators made English cities healthier. The Great Filth is a well-written and accessible book that looks at medical, social, scientific, political and infrastructural developments. Gems of detail shine out amid the sludge and sewage. The central pages include eleven portraits of some of the main players – with a fabulous photograph of a campaigning statistician called William Farr.
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'Thirkell was a product of her time and her class. For her there are no sacred cows, barring those that win ribbons at the Barchester Agricultural.'
The novelist Angela Thirkell is due a revival, says Patricia T O'Conner (£).
'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.