Category: HBLL

Black Victorians: Hidden in History

A landmark work of revisionist history exploring and celebrating the lives of Black Victorians.

Our vision of Victorian Britain tends to the monolithic – white, imperialist, prurient, patrician. However, though until very recently overlooked in our textbooks, there was another, more diverse Britain, populated by people of colour marking achievements both ordinary and extraordinary.

In this deeply researched, dynamic and revelatory history, Woolf and Abraham reach back into the archives to recentre our attention on marginalised Black Victorians, from leading medic George Rice to protestor William Cuffay to attention-grabbing abolitionists Henry ‘Box’ Brown and Sarah Parker Remond; from pre-Raphaelite muse Fanny Eaton to composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor. Black Victorians shows how Black lives were visible, present and influential – not temporary presences but established and rooted; and how paradox and ambivalence characterised the Victorian view of race.

PRAISE FOR THE WONDERS

A promising young historian’ Stephen Fry

Nuanced and complex, Woolf deftly shows there are stories of empowerment alongside those of exploitationBBC History magazine

John Woolf’s book will dazzle you with details of extraordinary lives, long underestimated by history’ Matthew Sweet, author of Inventing the Victorians

Vagabonds: Life on the Streets of Nineteenth-century London – by BBC New Generation Thinker 2022

Compelling, moving and unexpected portraits of London’s poor from a rising star British historian – the Dickensian city brought to real and vivid life.

Until now, our view of bustling late Georgian and Victorian London has been filtered through its great chroniclers, who did not themselves come from poverty – Dickens, Mayhew, Gustave Doré. Their visions were dazzling in their way, censorious, often theatrical. Now, for the first time, this innovative social history brilliantly – and radically – shows us the city’s most compelling period (1780–1870) at street level.

From beggars and thieves to musicians and missionaries, porters and hawkers to sex workers and street criers, Jensen unites a breadth of original research and first-hand accounts and testimonies to tell their stories in their own words. What emerges is a buzzing, cosmopolitan world of the working classes, diverse in gender, ethnicity, origin, ability and occupation – a world that challenges and fascinates us still.