London in the eighteenth century was the greatest city in the world. It was a magnet that drew men and women from the rest of Britain, and from further afield, in huge numbers. If for a few the streets were paved with gold, for the majority it was a harsh world with little guarantee of money or food. For the poor and destitute, London's streets offered only the barest livelihood. Yet men, women and children found a great variety of ways to eke out their existence, sweeping roads, selling matches, singing ballads and performing all sorts of menial labour. Many of these activities, apart from the direct begging of the disabled, depended on an appeal to charity, but one often mixed with threats and promises. Down and Out in Eighteenth-Century London provides a remarkable insight into the lives of Londoners, for all of whom the demands of charity and begging were part of their everyday world.
"this sympathetic, lively study" The Telegraph, 1 January 2005 "This is an impressive tribute to the forgotten existences of the criers, hawkers, link boys, chimney sweeps, cinder sifters and mudlarks who occupied the lowest rungs in the city's social ladder" The Sunday Times, February 20, 2005