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London Lives is a fascinating new study which exposes, for the first time, the lesser-known experiences of eighteenth-century thieves, paupers, prostitutes and highwaymen. It charts the experiences of hundreds of thousands of Londoners who found themselves submerged in poverty or prosecuted for crime, and surveys their responses to illustrate the extent to which plebeian Londoners influenced the pace and direction of social policy. Calling upon a new body of evidence, the book illuminates the lives of prison escapees, expert manipulators of the poor relief system, celebrity highwaymen, lone mothers and vagrants, revealing how they each played the system to the best of their ability in order to survive in their various circumstances of misfortune. In their acts of desperation, the authors argue that the poor and criminal exercised a profound and effective form of agency that changed the system itself, and shaped the evolution of the modern state.Read more
- Presents a pioneering account of the evolution of social policy and criminal justice in the eighteenth century
- Charts the lives of the poor and criminal and explores their vital role in the shaping of the modern world
- Calls upon a new body of evidence and the latest digital technology to reconstruct the lives of non-elite eighteenth-century Londoners
Reviews & endorsements
"Reveals how the cunning, courage and sheer resourcefulness of some of eighteenth-century London's poorest residents forced the city's authorities to overhaul its justice and welfare systems."
BBC History MagazineSee more reviews
"A compelling read and there is a huge amount of meticulously researched information in here."
Your Family Tree
"A brilliant analysis of an outstanding resource."
Who Do You Think You Are?
"Shocking in its depiction of survival and desperation … this book shows how the criminal underclass helped shape the English justice system."
Hallie Rubenhold, 'Books of the Year', BBC History Magazine
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- Date Published: March 2016
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107639942
- length: 475 pages
- dimensions: 228 x 152 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.75kg
- contains: 47 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
2. Beggarman, thief, 1690–1713
3. Protest and resistance, 1713–31
4. Vestries, justices and their opponents:
5. Reformers and their discontents:
6. Finding a voice:
7. The State in chaos, 1776–89
8. Epilogue, the 1790s
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London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City
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