Catherine Peters

The Lust for Acquisition

Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain


HarperCollins 448pp £20 order from our bookshop

Waxing Mythical: The Life and Legend of Madame Tussaud


John Murray 352pp £25 order from our bookshop

Excessive consumption has reached a stage in the Western world where it is destroying the planet. Our hunger for material objects is spreading rapidly across the globe, as living standards rise in the Third World. Do you long for earlier and simpler times, shaking your head over our contemporary worship of possessions? Think again. Judith Flanders’s absorbing and scholarly study of the inexorable rise of consumerism shows that shopping, with the vast advertising industry that supports and encourages it, has been a defining attribute of Western urban society at least since the eighteenth century. Her account convincingly demonstrates that it was the demands of consumers that drove the Industrial Revolution, rather than the other way about. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,