1st Edition

Critical Essays on Arthur Morrison and the East End

Edited By Diana Maltz Copyright 2022
    270 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    270 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In 1896, author Arthur Morrison gained notoriety for his bleak and violent A Child of the Jago, a slum novel that captured the desperate struggle to survive among London’s poorest. When a reviewer accused Morrison of exaggerating the depravity of the neighborhood on which the Jago was based, he incited the era’s most contentious public debate about the purpose of realism and the responsibilities of the novelist. In his self-defense and in his wider body of work, Morrison demonstrated not only his investments as a formal artist, but also his awareness of social questions. As the first critical essay collection on Arthur Morrison and the East End, this book assesses Morrison’s contributions to late-Victorian culture, especially discourses around English working-class life. Chapters evaluate Morrison in the context of Victorian criminality, child welfare, disability, housing, professionalism, and slum photography. Morrison’s works are also reexamined in the light of writings by Sir Walter Besant, Clementina Black, Charles Booth, Charles Dickens, George Gissing, and Margaret Harkness. This volume features an introduction and 11 chapters by preeminent and emerging scholars of the East End. They employ a variety of critical methodologies, drawing on their respective expertise in literature, history, art history, sociology, and geography. Critical Essays on Arthur Morrison and the East End throws fresh new light on this innovative novelist of poverty and urban life.



    Part One: Vulnerable Bodies

    1. Classed Childhood in Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago and Victorian Slum Fiction


    2. Visual Disability and Criminality in Morrison’s The Hole in the Wall


    3. Photographic Realism and the ‘Ragged Boy’ in Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago (1896), To London Town (1899), and The Hole in the Wall (1902)


    Part Two: Social Investigation

    4. Erasing Women’s Labor: Neglecting Female Reformers in the Slum Fiction of Besant, Harkness, and Morrison


    5. "Not What It Was Made Out": Hygiene, Health, and Moral Welfare in the Old Nichol, 1880–1900


    6. "Enterprising Realists": Tracing the Influence of Charles Booth’s Life and Labour on A Child of the Jago and Other Slum Fictions


    Part Three: Crime and Money

    7. Afterlives of A Child of the Jago


    8. Morrison’s Camorra: Organized Crime in Transcultural Context


    9. Investment and Housing in Gissing’s The Unclassed and Morrison’s "All That Messuage"

    TOM UE

    Part Four: Resituating Morrison

    10. Disconnecting and Reconnecting Morrison: Professional and Specialist Authorship


    11. Essex and the Metropolitan Periphery in To London Town, Cunning Murrell, and "A Wizard of Yesterday"



    Diana Maltz is Professor of English at Southern Oregon University. She earned her PhD.in English Literature at Stanford University. She is the author of British Aestheticism and the Urban Working Classes, 1870-1900: Beauty for the People (2006) and the editor of Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago (2013) and W. Somerset Maugham’s Liza of Lambeth ( 2022). She has received fellowships from the Ahmanson-Getty Foundation, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the NEH Summer Seminar Program, and the Fulbright Commission. She is Past President of the Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States.