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Social conditions in the 19th-century port

Poverty and slum housing
Social investigation
Charles Dickens visits Canning Town
The Bitter Cry of Outcast London
Charles Booth
Gustave Dore
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Gustave Dore

An artist's impression of poverty

Waterside labour
View full size imageFor many, gin was the only escape. © NMM
For those whose imaginations could not be stirred by social commentators like Booth and Mearns, the French artist Gustave Dore (1832-1883) visited London and produced horrific illustrations of life in the port areas that shocked public opinion. Although a commercial success, many of the critics disliked his work.

The critics' reaction

Houndsditch
View full size imageHoundsditch in 1872. © NMM
Several critics were angry that Dore had appeared to focus on the poverty that existed on the waterfront, rather than on the finer aspects of life in the metropolis.

He was accused by the Art Journal of 'inventing rather than copying'. Completely missing the point, The Westminster Review complained that 'Dore gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest external features are set down'.

 
Useful link

BBC - life in Victorian London

Page 6 of 6. Previous page

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Glossary
Port

Find out more
Fact fileCharles Dickens
The greatest English novelist of the Victorian era
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StoriesThe 19th-century port
Docks and industry transform the Thames
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StoriesThe Great Dock Strike of 1889
The labour movement's first great victory
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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