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date: 01 December 2021

p. 554. City Laureatelocked

p. 554. City Laureatelocked

  • Jenny Hartley


‘City Laureate’ describes Charles Dickens as our first and best novelist of the city. London in the mid-19th century was the supreme modern urban space and Dickens its chronicler. Dickens took the city for his first subject, and was instantly recognized for his skill in skewering what everyone had seen, but nobody else had consciously noted. Dickens saw himself as the presiding spirit of the city. The first to celebrate the experiences of metropolitan living, he was also first to explore its horrors. To redress some of these evils, Dickens looked to practical solutions. He campaigned for sanitary reforms, which would cleanse the city, and supported ragged schools for the poorest children.

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