London Labour and the London Poor; A Cyclopaedia of the Condition and Earnings of Those That Will Work, Those That Cannot Work, and Those That Will Not Work

  • $800.00
    Unit price per 

Author: Henry Mayhew (1812-1887)

Year: 1851-1862

Publisher: George Woodfall and Son and Griffin, Bohn

Place: London


4 volumes. The London street-folk: viii+492 pages with frontispiece, twenty seven illustrations and index; 422 pages with tables, and illustrations. Those that will not work: 192+[106 unpaginated Answers to correspondents] pages, with maps, tables and illustrations. Lives of streetwalkers, thieves and beggars: xl+[193]-448 pages with frontispiece, tables and illustrations. Royal octavo (9 1/4" x 6") bound in contemporary half leather and marbled boards; marbled edges and endpapers. Five raised spine bands and gilt lettering between compartments. First edition.

London Labour and the London Poor is a work of Victorian journalism by Henry Mayhew. In the 1840s, he observed, documented and described the state of working people in London for a series of articles in a newspaper, the Morning Chronicle, which were later compiled into book form.

Mayhew went into deep, almost pedantic detail concerning the trades, habits, religion and domestic arrangements of the thousands of people working the streets of the city. Much of the material comprises detailed interviews in which people candidly describe their lives and work. For instance, Jack Black talks about his job as "rat and mole destroyer to Her Majesty" and remains in good humour despite his experience of a succession of near-fatal infections from bites. Beyond that anecdotal material, Mayhew's articles are particularly notable for attempting to justify numerical estimates with other information, such as census data and police statistics. Thus, if the assertion is made that 8,000 of a particular type of trader operate in the streets, Mayhew compares that to the total number of miles of street in the city, with an estimate of how many traders operate per mile. (Wikipedia)

The articles comprising London Labour and the London Poor were initially collected into three volumes in 1851. The 1861 edition included a fourth volume, co-written with Bracebridge Hemyng, John Binny and Andrew Halliday, on the lives of prostitutes, thieves and beggars; this extra volume took a more general and statistical approach to its subject than the earlier works.


General light wear to boards with rubbing to extremities and raised spine bands, corners bumped; raised ownership stamp in each volume else very good.

We Also Recommend