Cover image for 1700 : scenes from London life
1700 : scenes from London life
Waller, Maureen.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Four Walls Eight Windows, [2000]

Physical Description:
vii, 388 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1340 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA681 .W27 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Maureen Waller captures the grit and excitement of London in 1700. Combining investigative reporting with popular history, she portrays London's teeming, sprawling urban life and creates a brilliant cultural map of a city poised between medievalism and empire in this Book of the Month Club Selection.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

London in 1700 was far from the glittering imperial metropolis of the Victorian era. The stinking streets were open sewers. Public sanitation was virtually unknown, so diseases ran rampant. The physical destruction caused by the Great Fire of 1666 had not been fully repaired. Yet, the emerging vitality was evident in the bustling commerce and the salons and scientific halls, where the ideas of Locke, Swift, Newton, and Halley were pondered. Waller is a scholar of British and European history and fiction editor of Book Club Associates of London. She vividly portrays the squalor of what was still essentially a medieval city. She also captures the vibrant intellectual climate and the surging financial activity that would eventually make London a great cultural and economic center. This is a superbly written portrait of a city on the cusp of greatness. --Jay Freeman

Publisher's Weekly Review

British historian and editor Waller contrasts the 18th century with the 21st in this radiant book. She sketches London at the turn of the 18th century--when the city, poised between two worlds, hosted remnants of the medieval world alongside harbingers of the empire that was to come. London in 1700, she notes, was both growing more modern--industry was thriving, trade was expanding and the country had its first constitutional monarchs--and, simultaneously, suffering from old troubles, including high mortality rates, poor drinking water and rampant, unchecked disease. Similarly, at the beginning of the 21st century, she suggests, we are wandering among the survivals of the age that's just ended and the precursors of a world whose outlines we cannot yet see. The resemblance between the two eras gives a piquancy to the text, but even if there were no such correspondence, there would still be a great deal to praise in this very fine book. Waller has mined the archival record for fascinating details of 18th-century British marriage and childbirth, disease and death, home and fashion, work and play, religion and vice, crime and punishment, and she includes an exhaustive bibliography. Although the book's chapters (grouped into such topics as childbirth, marriage and disease)--despite a plethora of vivid anecdotes--never really cohere into a unified narrative, this rigorous, informative and entertaining text deserves a wide readership. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-An enlightening and, in most cases, disgustingly good read, 1700 provides useful facts; illustrative scenes; and marvelously reproduced paintings, woodcuts, and articles contemporary to the period. The chapters are organized around themes of marriage, childbirth, childhood, the working city, death, prostitution, and crime, allowing easy access for students seeking facts and statistics, but the arrangement does not interfere with the overall readability of the text. Readers learn that it was so difficult for debtors in Newgate prison to pay the departure fee that many of them had to stay additional years after they had served their time, sometimes marrying, raising children, and keeping pets there. They find out that child mortality was so high that parents sometimes gave several children the same name, reasoning that at least one of them would probably die. Although the usefulness of this book on cultural and material history should never be called into question, it also serves as a nice companion piece to the books about tattooing and human and animal physical deformities that some teens have been known to peruse from time to time.-Sheryl Fowler, Chantilly Regional Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vii
Forewordp. 1
1 Marriagep. 9
2 Childbirthp. 45
3 Childhoodp. 62
4 Diseasep. 81
5 Deathp. 108
6 The Homep. 124
7 Fashionp. 153
8 Food and Drinkp. 177
9 Coffee-houses, Clubs, Alehouses and Tavernsp. 195
10 Amusementsp. 217
11 The Working Cityp. 234
12 The Poorp. 257
13 Huguenots and Other Strangersp. 265
14 Religion and Superstitionp. 282
15 Prostitution and Vicep. 293
16 Crime and Punishmentp. 307
Bibliographyp. 333
Notesp. 351
Indexp. 379