Georgian London evokes images of elegant buildings and fine art, but it was also a city where prostitution was rife, houses of ill repute widespread, and many tens of thousands of people dependent in some way or other on the wages of sin. The sex industry was, in fact, a very powerful force indeed, and in The Secret History of Georgian London, Dan Cruickshank compellingly shows how it came to affect almost every aspect of life and culture in the capital.
Examining the nature of the sex trade, he offers a tantalising insight into the impact of prostitution to give us vivid portraits of some of the women who became involved in its world. And he discusses the very varied attitudes of contemporaries - those who sympathised, those who indulged, and those who condemned. As he powerfully argues, these women, and many thousands like them, not only shaped eighteenth-century London, they also helped determine its future development.
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Belle de Jour for the 18th century. Funny, fantastical, full of impossible facts and scandalous stories. Scholarly, but also the ideal stocking (and suspender) filler - Guardian
I heartily recommend this scholarly romp through the bordellos, inns and prisons of Henry Fielding's and John Wilkes's London - Reader's Digest
Fascinating ... Cruickshank removes the bland façade to expose one of London's biggest and most lively industries - its trade in sex ... a lively and scholarly panorama of Georgian London before the sex trade was chased underground by the Victorians and we all became prudish instead - Daily Mail
This is a colossal melting pot of a book: ambitious, rigorously researched, vigorously narrated and marvellously illustrated. All of life is here, but not as we know it - Sunday Times
The author paints an illuminating, eye-opening and generous account of the capital's courtesans, harlots, bath-houses and brothels. A book to read by the light of a flickering candle - Telegraph
Dan Cruickshank enters this world with relish ... the book's capaciousness and breadth is tremendous, providing much to fascinate, provoke and inform - Country Life
An original and engaging history of the capital ... Cruickshank pieces together [the] evidence with meticulous care to create a compelling portrait - Sunday Telegraph
Richly informative ...This is a monumental work which leaves no stone unturned in its quest to create a full and brutally honest picture of the lives of Georgian London's dispossessed ... The result is a broad panorama and a compelling thesis which can be considered a commendable contribution to scholarship, as well as a gripping read - BBC History Magazine
Engagingly and comprehensively assembled. Dan Cruickshank is a humane guide ... His relish for the subject is clear but so too is his understanding of the harsh price often exacted - Literary Review
Cruickshank brilliantly sketches the wild whirligig of drunkenness, debauchery, theft, exploitation, merriness, subversion, corruption, lust, fantasy, violence, disease, starvation and early death - Telegraph
Witty, elegantly written and memorable - Architectural Review
By this author
About the Author
Dan Cruickshank is an architectural historian and television presenter. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a member of the Executive Committee of the Georgian Group, and on the Architectural Panel of the National Trust. His recent work includes the television programmes and accompanying books Around the World in 80 Treasures (2005) and Dan Cruickshank's Adventures in Architecture (2008). He lives in Spitalfields, London.