Booth’s Life and Labour Survey

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Charles Booth’s survey, The Life and Labour of the People in London, published in 17 volumes from 1889 to 1903. Booth (1840-1916), a Liverpudlian shipping line owner, surveyed every household in London to see if it was true, as claimed, that as many as a quarter lived in poverty. He found that it was closer to a third, and that many of these were either children with no means of support or older people no longer well enough to work. He went on to campaign for an old age pension, and broadened the impact of his findings by publishing enhanced Ordnance Survey maps with the streets coloured according to the wealth of those who lived there.

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  • Emma Griffin 6 episodes
    Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia
  • Sarah Wise No other episodes
    Adjunct Professor at the University of California
  • Lawrence Goldman 10 episodes
    Emeritus Fellow in History at St Peter's College, University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Booth's Maps Of London Poverty, 1889: East And West London poster
    Charles Booth (Old House Books, 2013) Google Books →
  • The Streets of London: The Booth Notebooks: South East
    Charles Booth (ed. Jess Steele) (Deptford Forum Publishing, 1997) Google Books →
  • The Streets of London: The Booth Notebooks: East
    Charles Booth (ed. Jess Steele) (Deptford Forum Publishing, 2018) Google Books →
  • Charles Booth: A Memoir
    Mary Booth (Gregg Publishing, 1968) Google Books →
  • The Moral Mapping of Victorian and Edwardian London: Charles Booth, Christian Charity and The Poor-But-Respectable
    Thomas R.C. Gibson-Brydon (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • London's Shadows: The Dark Side of the Victorian City
    Drew D. Gray (Hambledon Continuum, 2010) Google Books →
  • The New Survey of London Life & Labour: 40 Years of Change
    Hubert Llewellyn Smith (ed) (PS King & Son, Ltd, 1930-35)
  • Charles Booth's London Poverty Maps: A Landmark Reassessment of Booth's Social Survey
    Mary S. Morgan and Iain Sinclair (Thames and Hudson, 2019)
  • Victorian Aspirations: The Life and Labour of Charles and Mary Booth
    Belinda Norman-Butler (Routledge, 2017) Google Books →
  • Mr Charles Booth's Inquiry: Life and Labour of the People in London Reconsidered
    Rosemary O'Day and David Englander (Hambledon Continuum, 1993) Google Books →
  • Retrieved Riches: Social Investigation in Britain, 1840-1914
    Rosemary O'Day and David Englander (eds.) (Scolar Press, 1995)
  • Charles Booth: Social Scientist
    T. S and M. B. Simey (Oxford University Press, 1960) Google Books →
  • Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship Between Classes in Victorian Society
    Gareth Stedman Jones (Verso Books, 2013) Google Books →
  • My Apprenticeship
    Beatrice Webb (Cambridge University Press, 1980) Google Books →
  • The Diary of Beatrice Webb, 1873-1943
    Beatrice Webb (eds. Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie) (Little Brown, 1982-85) Google Books →
  • The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum
    Sarah Wise (Vintage, 2008) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1886, Charles Booth surveyed every household in booming London to test an unlikely claim that as many as a quarter lived in poverty.