Search our site
Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron Read the opening extract of the brand new Sophie Cameron book before its publication on 22/03/2018

Dr Johnson's London by Liza Picard


Dr Johnson's London by Liza Picard

'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' ObserverWhen 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.


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 *

About the Author

Liza Picard was born in 1927. She read law at the London School of Economics and qualified as a barrister, but did not practise. She worked for many years in the office of the Solicitor of the Inland Revenue and lived in Gray's Inn and Hackney, before retiring to live in Oxford. Restoration London, the result of many years' interest and research into London life, was her first book.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

1st May 2003


Liza Picard

More books by Liza Picard
Author 'Like for Like'


Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


384 pages


Social & cultural history

Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900



If you love reading, then you'll love Lovereading! Full of tips & info for every discerning reader.

Lynne Rapson

What can I say, the clue is in the title Lovereading - and awesome books.

Sarah Davis

My horizons have been broadened by some of the books I have been lucky to review and I expect it to be no different in the future.

Daran Bellingham

I love Lovereading because of its ability to connect people that love books & unite them in a friendly, stimulating & interesting community.

Megan Olwen William

Ever purchased a book, read a few pages & thought I'm not going to enjoy this? Honest book reviews mean you'll never have that problem again

Jill Peters

At Lovereading there are fabulous books available in every genre, with great reviews to help you pick the right book for you.

Teresa O'Halloran

For me, to read is to learn, to reflect, to escape, to think, to contemplate and my time for space and calm.

Sally Ellsmore

I love the 'like for like' author recommendations, it's like an old friend whispering in your ear.

Emma Caddick