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The Smoke of London
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Book description

The Smoke of London uncovers the origins of urban air pollution, two centuries before the industrial revolution. By 1600, London was a fossil-fuelled city, its high-sulfur coal a basic necessity for the poor and a source of cheap energy for its growing manufacturing sector. The resulting smoke was found ugly and dangerous throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, leading to challenges in court, suppression by the crown, doctors' attempts to understand the nature of good air, increasing suburbanization, and changing representations of urban life in poetry and on the London stage. Neither a celebratory account of proto-environmentalism nor a declensionist narrative of degradation, The Smoke of London recovers the seriousness of pre-modern environmental concerns even as it explains their limits and failures. Ultimately, Londoners learned to live with their dirty air, an accommodation that reframes the modern process of urbanization and industrial pollution, both in Britain and beyond.

Reviews

'The Smoke of London takes its inspiration from environmental history to make a powerful contribution to our understanding of debates in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England about urbanisation, economic growth, and its environmental consequences … [The book] does forcibly show that debates about urban pollution long predate the nineteenth century and offers a fascinating window onto environmental attitudes in early modern England. Cavert's book is, then, a wide-ranging, nuanced, and thoughtful contribution to environmental, urban, and English history.'

Robert J. Mayhew Source: Journal of Historical Geography

'The Smoke of London will no doubt find undergraduate as well as specialist readers: it is snappily written, meticulously and helpfully footnoted and tackles historiographical debates in a range of fields with admirable clarity. A memorable anecdote frames each chapter, and gives a window into the breadth of research that sits behind the book’s key arguments. Sensitive readings of literary sources are placed in a robust economic framework. Carefully explained statistics sit alongside weird and wonderful cases from the royal courts, in a potent blend of political, scientific, economic, industrial and social history, all under the ‘environmental’ umbrella. It is a brilliant book that deserves to be widely read.'

Andy Burn Source: Urban History

'An erudite study of the environmental price paid by the growth of early modern London, which looks to be repeated in present-day Beijing.'

Gillian Tindall Source: History Today

'William Cavert has written an engrossing, readable, and authoritative study of a significant episode in the history of the urban environment, one with important lessons for today.'

Christine L. Corton Source: Renaissance Quarterly

'Until recently, environmental history has remained something of a curiosity in early modern British history. With The Smoke of London, Cavert has done both fields a great service in showing the importance of each to the other. This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in urban, environmental, British, or early modern history.'

John Emrys Morgan Source: Canadian Journal of History

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Contents

  • 7 - The moral economy of fuel: coal, poverty, and necessity
    pp 103-121
  • L Lucas MSS

  • X 800/7 Antonie Papers

  • Bankes MSS

  • Carte MSS

  • Clarendon MSS

  • Rawlinson MSS

  • Additional MSS

  • Cotton MSS

  • Egerton MSS

  • Lansdowne MSS

  • Sloane MSS

  • Stowe MSS

  • Ch(H) Political Cholmondeley (Houghton), Walpole Papers

  • P23 St Andrew’s Parish Records

  • P26 St Botolph’s Parish Records

  • P28 St Edward King and Martyr Parish Records

  • P30 Great St Mary’s Parish Records

  • P52 Croxton Parish Records

  • D LONS/W1 Lowthers of Whitehaven Papers

  • MS L.a. Bagot Papers

  • GBR/B3 Gloucester Borough Minutes

  • P170 Hawkesbury Parish

  • MS 3018 St Dunstan’s in the West, Wardmote Presentments

  • MS 3047 Tylers’ and Bricklayers’ Company Search Books

  • MS 5442 Brewers Company Warden’s Accounts

  • MS 5445 Brewers Company Court Minute Books

  • MS 5491 Brewers Company Charity Account Books

  • MS 5570 Fishmongers Company Court Books

  • MS 12,830 Christ’s Hospital, Carmen’s Records

  • MS 17,872 Ironmongers Company Charities and Estates

  • MS 25,240 St Paul’s Cathedral Dean and Chapter Estates

  • MS 34,010 Merchant Taylors Company Court of Assistants

  • EL Ellesmere MSS

  • ST Stowe MSS

  • AH Ashridge Collection, Egerton Family Estates and Letters

  • U269/1 Cranfield Papers

  • MS 748 Coal Accounts

  • CLA/47/LJ/1 City of London, Sessions of the Peace

  • CLA/43/1 City of London, Manor Records

  • COL/CHD/PR/3/11 City of London, Chamberlain’s Department, Poor Relief

  • COL/AD/1 Corporation of London, Letterbooks

  • COL/AD/4 Corporation of London, Wardmote Presentments

  • COL/CA/1/1 Corporation of London, Court of Aldermen Repertories

  • COL/CC/1/1 Corporation of London, Court of Common Council Journals

  • COL/RMD/PA/1 Remembrancer’s Department Papers

  • COL/SJ/27 Corporation of London, Viewers Reports

  • E/BER/CG/L22 Bedford Estate, Covent Garden, Leases

  • MJ/SBR Middlesex Sessions of the Peace

  • P92/SAV St Saviour’s, Southwark Parish Records

  • LMA WJ/SP Westminster Quarter Sessions

  • ADM 3 Admiralty: Minutes

  • ADM 106 Navy Board: Records

  • C 8 Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings before 1714

  • C 11 Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings 1714 to 1758

  • C 66 Chancery and Supreme Court of Judicature: Patent Rolls

  • C 114 Chancery Master’s Exhibits

  • C 115 Chancery Master’s Exhibits, Duchess of Norfolk’s Deeds (Scudamore MSS)

  • E 134 Exchequer: King’s Remembrancer: Depositions Taken by Commission

  • E 214 Exchequer: King’s Remembrancer: Modern Deeds

  • KB 27 Court of King’s Bench: Plea and Crown Sides: Coram Rege Rolls

  • LC 5 Lord Chamberlain’s Department: Miscellaneous Records

  • LS 13 Lord Steward’s Department: Miscellaneous Books

  • PC 2 Privy Council Registers

  • PRO 30 Domestic Records of the Public Record Office, Gifts, Notes, and Transcripts: Original Records Acquired as Gifts or on Deposit

  • PRO 31 Domestic Records of the Public Record Office, Gifts, Notes, and Transcripts: Transcripts of Records and Scholars’ Notes

  • PROB 11 Prerogative Court of Canterbury and related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers

  • SP 12 State Papers Domestic, Elizabeth I

  • SP 14 State Papers Domestic, James I

  • SP 16 State Papers Domestic, Charles I

  • SP 29 State Papers Domestic, Charles II

  • SP 42 State Papers Naval

  • STAC 8 Court of Star Chamber: Proceedings, James I

  • PD629 Holme-next-the-Sea Parish Records

  • E(B) Ellesmere Brackley Collection

  • HL/PO/JO/10 House of Lords, Main Papers

  • GU.TH/21 Trinity House, Newcastle Cash Books

  • Acc. 1815 Craven Estate Map

  • 1049 Grosvenor Papers

  • E St Margaret Parish Records

  • The Annual Register

  • The Connoisseur

  • Exact Diurnall

  • The Gentleman’s Magazine

  • Le Journal des Sçavans

  • Lloyd’s Evening Post

  • London Advertiser and Literary Gazette

  • London Evening Post

  • The London Gazette

  • The London Magazine

  • Mercurius Aulicus

  • The Tatler

  • Weekly Account

  • Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer

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