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Charles Booth’s London Poverty Maps

Mary S. Morgan, Iain Sinclair


Charles Booth’s landmark survey of 19th-century London, published for the first time in one volume alongside the researchers' revelatory notebooks

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In the late 19th century, Charles Booth’s landmark social and economic survey found that 35% of Londoners were living in abject poverty. Between 1886 and 1903, Booth’s team of social investigators interviewed Londoners from all walks of life, recording their comments, together with their own unrestrained remarks and statistical information, in 450 notebooks. Their findings formed the basis of Booth’s colour-coded social mapping (from vicious and semi-criminal to wealthy) and his Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the People of London.

Organized into 12 geographical sections, Charles Booth’s London Poverty Maps presents the meticulously hand-coloured preparatory and final printed social mapping of London. Accompanying the colour-coded maps are selected reproductions of pages from the original notebooks, containing anecdotes related by Londoners of every trade, class, creed and nationality together with observations by Booth’s interviewers that reveal much about their social class and moral views. An introduction by Mary S. Morgan clarifies the aims and methodology of Booth’s survey, and six themed essays by experts in the field contextualize the survey’s findings, illustrated by evocative period photographs.Completing the re-evaluation of Booth’s seminal social survey are newly rendered infographics presenting the raw statistics relating to living conditions,employment status and poverty levels for each geographical section of London.

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'A splendid – and necessary – publication … a great resource'
Iain Sinclair

'[An] exquisite edition of Booth’s maps'
BBC Radio 3: Free Thinking

'Exquisite … the book really is a beautiful thing, with a reverence for the source material and playfulness in the design'
World of Interiors

'What Booth’s poverty maps ultimately show is a London where rich and poor lived right next door to each other: in that sense, at least, today’s London is no different'

'Compelling – once you start you can’t stop'
BBC Radio London: The Robert Elms Show

'Charles Booth’s famous maps of Victorian London offer a chance to reflect on how the city has changed - and how it hasn’t'

'Booth’s maps have been beautifully reproduced in [this] new book'
LSE Review of Books

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Quarterbound (no jacket)

Size: 36.5 x 26.5 cm

Extent: 288 pp

Publication date: 24 October 2019

ISBN: 9780500022290

Contents List

Forward: Mapping the Abyss. • Introduction. • Eastern District & North Eastern District • Housing. • Northern District & North-Western District • Immigration. • East Central District & West Central District • Religion. • Inner Western District & Outer Western District • Trade. • Inner Souther District & South-Western District • Morality. • Outside Southern District & South Eastern District • Leisure.

About the Author

Mary S. Morgan is Professor of the History of Economics in the London School of Economics.

Iain Sinclair is a writer and filmmaker. Much of his work is rooted in London, most recently within the influences of psychogeography.

List of Contributors

Anne Power, Katie Garner, Aileen Reid, Jacob F. Field, Sarah Wise, Inderbir Bhullar