The Marylebone Journal

‘Regular readers of these pages will have sussed that I am a sucker for social history. It’s what my doctorate is in, if you squint a bit. Peculiarly observant readers may even have noticed that I am essentially an early modernist, rabidly excited about Tudors and Stuarts but generally enthusiastic about most periods outside that. Readers who are either stalkers or my mother might have picked up on my violent antipathy towards the 18th century. With the single exception of men in makeup—a guaranteed crowd-pleaser when the crowd is me—it’s DULL. Its ideologies are questionable, its literature is infuriating, its politicians bombastic. I admit its music has its moments, but still.

Thus, for me to voluntarily pick up a book about the Georgian period it almost had to involve my one other overriding passion, this great and glorious city of ours. An urban creature, I love London and its streets with the kind of fierce and ungovernable passion more properly reserved for people. I come out in a rash outside the M25. For Lucy Inglis’s new popular urban history, then, I am what might be described as a Tough Gig. And bless her, she pulls it off.

Into The Streets moves from a general introduction into geographically specific sections teeming with rich and fascinating detail and engaging anecdotes. She covers the buildings, the beverages, the beasts, the bawds and the bodysnatching—have you heard the sad tale of Chuny the elephant? The origins of the Bow Street Runners and the Blind Beak of Bow Street? About the ‘lunatic trade’ and the east London mad farms? (This last may be somewhat familiar to those acquainted with modern hipster Hackney and Shoreditch, but I digress.) It’s a weird and wonderful mix, as anything London should be, and Inglis repeatedly underlines continuities between Georgian London and the present day. Her passionate curiosity and love for the city rise off the page like smoke, making for a glorious, gossipy, gorgeous insight into the streets we walk every day.’

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