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Dr Johnson's London

by Liza Picard

Part of the Life of London Series

Dr Johnson's London Synopsis

'A Baedeker of the past, absorbing and revealing in equal measure' Peter Ackroyd 'Brings the age's tortuous splendours and profound murkiness vividly to life' Observer When Dr Johnson published his great Dictionary in 1755, London was the biggest city in Europe. The opulence of the rich and the comfort of the 'middling' sort contrasted sharply with the back-breaking labour and pitiful wages of the poor. Executions were rated one of the best amusements, but there was bullock-hunting and cock-fighting too. Crime, from pickpockets to highwaymen, was rife, prisons were poisonous and law-enforcement rudimentary. Dr Johnson's London is the result of the author's passionate interest in the practical details of the everyday life of our ancestors: the streets, houses and gardens; cooking, housework, laundry and shopping; clothes and cosmetics; medicine, sex, hobbies, education and etiquette. The book spans the years 1740 to 1770, starting when the gin craze was gaining ground and ending when the east coast of America was still British. While brilliantly recording the strangeness and individuality of the past, Dr Johnson's London continually reminds us of parallels with the present day.

Dr Johnson's London Press Reviews

Read Liza Picard's book, wrap yourself in the atmosphere of the past, and you'll emerge with a gulp of relief to be living now, not then -- Miranda Seymour * Sunday Times * This wonderful book drops us right in the noisy, dirty, dung-ridden heart of mid-eighteenth-century London ... Picard's street-level approach builds up a compelling, all-encompassing picture of how Londoners, from commoners to kings, lived and died * Glasgow Herald * This book sweeps across the London of 1740 to 1770 like a flying magnifying glass. [Picard's] dry humour and eagle eye make her a superb guide. It opens with a sedan chair tour around George II's London and along the river. I can only say it is brilliant -- Illtyd Harrington * Camden New Journal * Picard's exploration of life in the mid-eighteenth century succeeds in being both accessible and vivid. Her curiosity and enthusiasm are infectious, and she has an instinct for what will interest the lay reader -- Victoria Lane * Daily Telegraph * In this new survey of Johnson's London, which spans the years 1740 to 1770, Liza Picard reveals what it was that proved so compelling about the monstrous metropolis ... With her keen eye for human quirks and human weakness, Picard brings the age's tortuous splendours and profound murkiness vividly to life, and does so with great verve and originality -- Henry Hitchings * Observer * There are fascinating disquisitions on do-it-yourself decorating, on male and female underwear, on funerals, and on the language of fans ... Dr Johnson's London is a Baedeker of the past ... It is absorbing and revealing in equal measure -- Peter Ackroyd * The Times * At last, a riveting history book with no wars, few dates and minimal references to the King ... Picard has an unerring eye for picking out the most vivid phrase, the most apt memory or pithiest description from the wealth of contemporary information that exists -- Ruth Cowen * Sunday Express *

Book Information

ISBN: 9781842127292
Publication date: 1st May 2003
Author: Liza Picard
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 384 pages
Categories: Social & cultural history, Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900,

About Liza Picard

Liza Picard was born in 1927. She is the bestselling author an acclaimed series of books on the history of London: Elizabeth's London, Restoration London, Dr Johnson's London and Victorian London. Her most recent book, Chaucer's People, explores the Middle Ages through the lives of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales. She read law at the London School of Economics and was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn, but did not practise. She worked for many years in the office of the Solicitor of the Inland Revenue before retiring to become a full-time author. She lives in London.

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