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Dr. Johnson's London by Liza Picard

Dr Johnson's London: Everyday Life in London in the Mid 18th Century - Liza Picard

An interesting and well-researched reference on everyday life in London in the mid 18th century, particularly for the poor and middle classes, this book covers everything from housing to medicine to jobs and labor relations to entertainment. It’s minutely organized and indexed, making it very easy to refer back to a particular section; individual sections, however, are quite short, no surprise when the text comes in at under 300 pages for a broad variety of material. I found a number of surprises about the 18th century: at the same time, water was being piped into Londoners’ homes through pipes made of elm buried under the streets (wooden pipes? And we think of water utilities as being a much later development), and convicted criminals might be put in the pillory or whipped through the streets (which sounds downright medieval). This is not a narrative – Samuel Johnson, of Dictionary of the English Language fame, provides a time frame but is only occasionally mentioned – but it should be both useful and accessible to those interested in learning more about the period.