Dr Johnson's London

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Orion Publishing Group, May 1, 2003 - History - 416 pages

'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.

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About the author (2003)

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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