Author(s): Iain Sinclair & LSE
From 1886 to 1903, passionate social reformer Charles Booth (1840-1916) conducted a landmark survey of the life and labour of the poor of London, which resulted in the finding that 35% of Londoners were living in abject poverty. This shocking statistic is brought to life by the hundreds of interviews with Londoners from all walks of life, from factory owners to trade unionists, from ministers to prostitutes. These unrestrained commentaries - recorded in over 450 notebooks - provide unparalleled detail on how Victorian Londoners lived, worked and felt. Displaying previously unpublished pages from these notebooks, Charles Booth's London Poverty Maps provides access to these revelatory details, exposing a London not so different to our city today - packed with migrant communities from across the globe, bustling with traders and entertainers, and with those living in poverty often just a street away from those revelling in extraordinary wealth. Alongside the notebooks are printed the incredible final results of Booth's survey: his meticulously colour-coded maps of London. Every street is marked with one of seven colours to indicate the level of poverty, ranging between the black 'semi-vicious' class to the yellow 'well-to-do' class. Readers can pore over the detail of these maps, and discover how the streets in which they now live, work and relax were once ranked. Interleaved between the geographically organized maps and notebook pages are six expert thematic essays that contextualize and elaborate the survey's findings, and evocative period photographs that powerfully capture the life and labour of Londoners.