Charles Booth's Poverty Map
Charles Booth, a shipowner, sought to refute socialist allegations that a quarter of London’s population lived in poverty. He thought this exaggerated, but his researches, published in 17 volumes, revealed that the true figure was even higher at one third. Here his extensive survey is presented in cartographical form with the levels of poverty colour coded. For example, dark blue represents 'Very poor. Casual, chronic want', while black stands for 'Lowest class. Vicious, semi criminal.' This sometimes conceals as much as it reveals. The purple of the mixed areas obscured much poverty while domestic servants in the yellow areas would hardly have been wealthy. Although Booth has no qualms about labelling the very poorest areas ’vicious semi-criminal’ no comments are made about the ethics of the rich.
- Article by:
- Judith Flanders
- Poverty and the working classes
Judith Flanders examines the state of housing for the 19th-century urban poor, assessing the ‘improvements’ carried out in slum areas and the efforts of writers, including Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew, to publicise such living conditions.