Dr. Johnson's London: Life in London 1740-1770

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9780297842187: Dr. Johnson's London: Life in London 1740-1770

The practical realities of everyday life are rarely described in history books. To remedy this, and to satisfy her own curiosity about the lives of our ancestors, Liza Picard immersed herself in contemporary sources - diaries and journals, almanacs and newspapers, government papers and reports, advice books and memoirs - to examine the substance of life in mid-18th century London. The fascinating result of her research, Dr. Johnson's London introduces the reader to every facet of that period: from houses and gardens to transport and traffic; from occupations and work to pleasure and amusements; from health and medicine to sex, food, and fashion. Stops along the way focus on education, etiquette, public executions as popular entertainment, and a melange of other historical curiosities.

This book spans the period from 1740 to 1770-very much the city of Dr. Johnson, who published his great Dictionary in 1755. It starts when the gin craze was gaining ground and ends just before America ceased being a colony. In its enthralling review of an exhilarating era, Dr. Johnson's London brilliantly records the strangeness and individuality of the past--and continually reminds us of parallels with the present day.

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About the Author:

Liza Picard was born in Essex in 1927, the youngest daughter of the village doctor. She read law at the London School of Economics but chose not to practice despite qualifying as a barrister. Her first book, Restoration London, was published by St. Martin's Press in 1998.

Review:

Read Liza Picard's book, wrap yourself in the atmosphere of the past, and you'll emerge with a gulp of relief to be living now, not then -- Miranda Seymour * Sunday Times * This wonderful book drops us right in the noisy, dirty, dung-ridden heart of mid-eighteenth-century London ... Picard's street-level approach builds up a compelling, all-encompassing picture of how Londoners, from commoners to kings, lived and died * Glasgow Herald * This book sweeps across the London of 1740 to 1770 like a flying magnifying glass. [Picard's] dry humour and eagle eye make her a superb guide. It opens with a sedan chair tour around George II's London and along the river. I can only say it is brilliant -- Illtyd Harrington * Camden New Journal * Picard's exploration of life in the mid-eighteenth century succeeds in being both accessible and vivid. Her curiosity and enthusiasm are infectious, and she has an instinct for what will interest the lay reader -- Victoria Lane * Daily Telegraph * In this new survey of Johnson's London, which spans the years 1740 to 1770, Liza Picard reveals what it was that proved so compelling about the monstrous metropolis ... With her keen eye for human quirks and human weakness, Picard brings the age's tortuous splendours and profound murkiness vividly to life, and does so with great verve and originality -- Henry Hitchings * Observer * There are fascinating disquisitions on do-it-yourself decorating, on male and female underwear, on funerals, and on the language of fans ... Dr Johnson's London is a Baedeker of the past ... It is absorbing and revealing in equal measure -- Peter Ackroyd * The Times * At last, a riveting history book with no wars, few dates and minimal references to the King ... Picard has an unerring eye for picking out the most vivid phrase, the most apt memory or pithiest description from the wealth of contemporary information that exists -- Ruth Cowen * Sunday Express *

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Picard, Liza
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Picard, Liza
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2000)
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