We think we have an idea of the Victorian city precisely because so many of our cities still look, in part, Victorian – not just the obvious suspects such as Leeds, Manchester or Bradford, but much of London too. Yet, as Judith Flanders explains in this well-researched and often fascinating book, the London in which the Victorians lived is largely beyond our imagination – and from what she tells us, it is probably just as well.
Flanders is a Dickens aficionado, and in a way this book can be seen as another of the bicentenary tributes to the old sentimentalist. Certainly, no novelist catalogued or described the capital between about 1835 and 1870 as comprehensively as Dickens did. But he is only the starting point, and