Although this watercolour painting depicts Wych Street, London, as a clean and respectable shopping street, contemporary reports provide a different story. In the 19th century the narrow Wych Street contained poor quality housing and was regarded as an unrespectable area due to its shops selling erotic prints; it is believed that Charles Dickens drew inspiration from the location, notably for Tom-all-Alone in Bleak House.
- Full title:
- Original watercolour of Wych Street, 1860. [from the author's presentation copy of The Life of Dickens, 1872-74]
- Artwork / Image
- unknown [artist], John Forster [compiler]
- Usage terms
- Public Domain
- Held by
- British Library
- Dex.316. - Vol II, part I
- Article by:
- Judith Flanders
- Poverty and the working classes, London
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.