Questions of Chic

Michael Mason

  • City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late Victorian London by Judith Walkowitz
    Virago, 353 pp, £16.99, November 1992, ISBN 1 85381 517 9
  • Cruelty and Companionship: Conflict in 19th-century Married Life by James Hammerton
    Routledge, 236 pp, £37.50, November 1992, ISBN 0 415 03622 4
  • Victorian Scandals: Representations of Gender and Class edited by Kristine Ottersen Garrigan
    Ohio, 337 pp, $34.99, August 1992, ISBN 0 8214 1019 9

This year is a minor jubilee in Victorian studies: in 1973 there appeared The Victorian City: Images and Realities. Somewhat against the odds this burly two-volume compilation of essays, brought together by Jim Dyos in England and Michael Wolff in America, became a classic. Against the odds, because these essays were, in origin, conference proceedings, and there were nearly forty of them. Conventional publishing wisdom would hope for only a modest success from such a formula, but The Victorian City did what compilations of expert essays should do and hardly ever manage. The editors had re-tuned almost all the contributions and they also added dozens of superb illustrations. The result was a book which is still full of important insights about 19th-century urban Britain that remain to be explored, and of ideas for factual enquiry that remain to be exploited.

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