Viking, £20 Order at a discount from the The Independent Bookshop

Book review: Georgian London: Into the Streets, By Lucy Inglis

From the zoo to the one-way system, the 18th-century capital might be strangely familiar to us

There's something refreshing about Lucy Inglis. Her debut book is jam-packed with unusual insights and facts about Georgian London, but there's also her approach to herself and her work. This is a historian whose website reads "Lucy Inglis, as in Pringles" and whose historical survey of the capital's streets and their inhabitants between 1714 and 1830 started as a blog. As wonderful as Peter Ackroyd's writing is, it's hard to imagine him referring to himself as Peter Snackroyd.

Get this book at the discounted price of £15.95 from The Independent Bookshop or call 0843 0600 030

Inglis's (award-winning) blog-turned-book is impressive in scope. She doesn't just cover the 116- year period but outlines the four events that led up to it: "Restoration, Plague, Fire, Revolution". It has a humanity, thanks to the individuals she writes about, such as Ignatius Sancho, a valet-turned-grocer who corresponded with Laurence Sterne and was the first recorded black voter in Britain, or Hester Lacey, whose salons led to the term "blue-stocking" as shorthand for an educated woman, and who was described by one of her friends as "brilliant in diamonds, solid in judgement".

London changed almost unimaginably during this period. At the start, it still had areas medieval Londoners would recognise. By the end, its innovations in industry, medicine, charity and law paved the way for the Victorian age. And yet there are many things that are remarkably familiar to the modern reader. One-way systems were in place by around 1720. People visited London's zoo (known as the Menagerie and housed in the Tower of London).

Now it costs an arm and a leg. Then "dead cats and dogs were used to supplement the feed of the big cats, and free entry could be had for anyone [who brought] one of either". There were same-sex relationships, for "the Georgian period saw the development of modern gay sexuality", financial scandals (the South Sea Bubble) and everyone was obsessed with the weather.

Inglis knows the city and its inhabitants well. Sometimes this can make her a little overfamiliar - the Prince of Wales was known, she writes, "affectionately-ish" as Prinny. Likewise, those without a solid grasp of the geography of Georgian London might find the way the book is divided - by areas – confusing.

Because of this, sections can leap from subject to subject - in one case from marriage to drinking to Lord Byron's weight-loss techniques - in a couple of breathless paragraphs. But what subjects! I had no idea that Spitalfields's now much sought-after weavers' houses were so mean in their layout, nor that middle-class drapers might have a pet lemur. This is a great read from a talented new historian.

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks