Roy Janik (zinereem) wrote,
Roy Janik

London Committee for the Exposure and Suppression of the Traffic in English Girls for the Purposes Continental Prostitution

So for the past few days I've been reading "The Victorian Underworld", a wonderful reference/retrospective of all the seedy elements of London's earlier days. So it's full of tales of prostitution, gangs of thieving children, cutpurses, costers, dodgers, cat burglars, etc.. The book also features sentences like this one:

"Thomas Wirgman occupied a place unique in legal history as the only defendant ever convicted of 'publishing' an obscene tooth-pick case, 'containing on the inside lid thereof one obscene, filthy, and indecent picture representing the naked persons of a man and woman in an indecent, filthy and obscene situation, attitude and practice'"

It's all extraordinarily interesting, especially when you contrast our image of the stuffy, repressed Victorians with the realities of their everyday life. There was such a division between the upper and lower classes that whenever reports were written in the papers of gritty street life, they read more than anything like the tale of an explorer reporting on the customs of the natives of an uncharted continent.

Anyhow, this is the first work of non-fiction I've enjoyed this much, probably because they make heavy use of actual report/journals/newspaper clippings of the day.
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