In nineteenth-century Britain, ahead of the rest of the world in economic development, many towns and cities grew to a size that only London had attained before. This volume focuses on the intellectual and controversial response of the period's leading men and women to the key issues of urbanization and its surrounding social problems.
The extracts selected date from 1785 to 1909, and are drawn from the writings, reports and speeches of admirers of city life and its most passionate critics, optimists and alarmists, advocates of back-to-the-land panaceas, and reformers who aspired to control and reform cities. Contemporaries quoted include Dickens, Cobbett, Carlyle, Disraeli, Engels, Mrs Gaskell, Ruskin, Joseph Chamberlain, William Morris, Charles Booth, H.G. Wells and Seebohm Rowntree. In a valuable introduction the editor indicates the main preoccupations of the debate abotu the city, proposes a periodization for it, adn shows its connections with other controversies and issues, as Victorian Britain found itself entering an 'age of great cities'.
This book was first published in 1973.
1. To the 1820s: the proliferation of the wens
2. From the 1820s to 1848: Passion and partisanship
3. From 1848 to the 1880s: Acceptance and optimism
4. From the 1880s: The doubts return