Low-life: or, One half of the world knows not how the other half lives


Low-life: or One half of the world knows not how the other half live provides a panoramic literary depiction of the realities of life in London over the space of 24 hours on Whitsunday, a holiday. First published in the middle of the 18th century, the anonymous author dedicates the book to William Hogarth, the famous painter and engraver. In much the same way that Hogarth depicted Londoners in his satires on vice, the book’s author attempts a vivid written picture of London’s poor.

Each chapter within the book recounts the events of an hour, beginning at 12 midnight on Saturday:

The Salop-man in Fleet-street shuts up his Gossiping Coffee-House. Journeymen Barbers entertaining themselves for the ensuing days employment … Hackney Coachmen full of employment about Charing-Cross, Covent-Garden, and the Inns of Court, carrying off to their respective Habitations such People who are either too drunk or too lazy to walk. Poor Tradesmen’s Wives hanging about their Husbands at little Ale-Houses to secure some Money to support their Family, before it is all lost at Whist, Cribbage, Putt and All-Fours … Persons of quality ordering their Chairmen to carry them to publick Gaming-Tables. (pp. 1‒3)

Full title:
Low-life: or one half of the world knows not how the other half lives, being a critical account of what is transacted ... in the twenty-four hours between Saturday-night and Monday-morning, in a true description of a Sunday as it is usually spent within the Bills of Mortality ... With an address to Mr. Hogarth. The third edition.
1764, London
Book / Engraving / Illustration / Image
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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