The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London

Written by Judith Flanders
Review by Amy Watkin

Nineteenth-century London was a busy, dirty, fascinating place, and this nonfiction work captures much of those times in elaborate detail. Conveyed in smooth prose, the book paints a nearly complete picture of the days in which Charles Dickens was taking long walks through all parts of London.

The book does not focus solely on Dickens, but rather uses several of his works as jumping off points, at which Flanders describes things like traveling, visiting the markets, and street violence. The book does not elaborate on Dickens’s works beyond what Flanders needs in order to pull the ideas together, but it does contain some spoilers for a few Dickens novels.

Flanders’s footnotes are succinct, relevant, and enlightening. The endnotes are disappointing, because there is no indication in the text when something is linked to an endnote. Readers have to turn to the endnotes, find the chapter and the last few words of the paragraph they are curious about, and see if there is an endnote there. The maps, drawings, and photos are all helpful and clear, though. Flanders frequently references the drawings and photos in her text, and uses a lot of useful cross-referencing, as well.