Conclusion

Historical Eye

MA work

'Those who live among the statistics and have seldom, if ever, lived among the poor, little know how poverty brings temptation and temptation both vice and crime'

Conclusion

 

In 1888, Cardinal Manning wrote: ‘Those who live among the statistics and have seldom, if ever, lived among the poor, little know how poverty brings temptation and temptation both vice and crime.’134 Too often historians are also guilty of living among the statistics and this is certainly true of many who have explored London’s streetwalkers and vagrants 1885-1905. Many have fallen into the trap of being overly reliant on numbers and percentages, believing they inform far more readily than written observation, comments or archive reports. But is often the latter selection that grants a deeper and more subtle understanding of the Twilight City.

 

Indeed, it is only by utilising the latter sources in conjunction with the work undertaken by the likes of Charles Booth that we can slowly reveal and explore the identity of vagrants and streetwalkers as individuals and not simply as a ‘type’ belonging to a particular category. Taking this methodology further, we can then analyse the mainstream reactions to vagrants and streetwalkers with a more critical eye. Fitting in with this, perhaps it is also time to step back from the historians' obsession with the late Victorian and early Edwardian lexicon of poverty. Instead we should focus our energy on exploring the underlying intentions and emotions conveyed within letters, articles and reports.

 

Digging deeper

Certainly by delving a little deeper into primary sources and archive material, we begin to see that vagrants of the period each have their own story to tell. One vagrant could have lost his job due to infirmity; another might lack the skills to do anything other than irregular manual work. Some became unemployed as changes in public taste rendered their work obsolete; others lost their jobs with the arrival of new technology. Many were destitute due to alcoholism and their inability to shake off their addiction. Some only indulged in heavy drinking once the slide into vagrancy was complete.

 

The late Victorians and early Edwardians were well aware that vagrants of the Twilight City could no longer be simply divided into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ categories once their reasons for their misfortune were known. As Reaney points out in 1888: ‘Hundreds, nay thousands, who to-day are idle and thriftless, were not always thus, and came to their sad condition by cruel force of circumstance.’135

 

The harsh terminology and the outcry against vagrants would only really erupt when the latter were deemed to have invaded mainstream areas and time zones, particularly in the parks. In this context, some claimed vagrants were a threat to safety, while others believed them a threat to health. Almost all, however, wanted the police and authorities to send them back to the Twilight City’s nocturnal streets.

 

Overall, there can be no single model concerning vagrants and the failure by many historians to offer a balanced account does a grave diservice to the men and women who struggled hard to help those on the edge of a grinding poverty that is now, thankfully, almost alien to the British Isles.

 

The trouble with Walkowitz

The historical understanding and investigation of streetwalking has been exhaustive, but focused only on the women in terms of their ‘trade’. Only by asking about who the streetwalkers were, why they had chosen to enter the ‘sex industry’ and what the individual difficulties they suffered from were, do we begin to appreciate that many previous historical models are often incomplete.

 

First and foremost, Walkowitz’s assertion that most prostitutes chose their ‘career’ and then soon left the ‘sex industry’ of their own volition is deeply problematic. Her claim that many streetwalkers were independent in ways respectable women could never aspire to is also unbalanced. This argument might be true of the very few successful prostitutes at the centre of the Bright Light City, but for those on the periphery, control of their lives was often lost because of their inability to cover costs, maintain stable relationships and, for many, to halt their excessive drinking.

 

A second difficulty with Walkowitz’s argument is her inability to seek out sources from those who lived with the consequences of streetwalking. The case study we have examined, of the problems faced by two shopkeepers in Endersleigh Gardens, show in stark detail the seediness of streetwalking: the foul language; use of doorways as latrines; sex in public spaces. In this light, there is nothing independent or free-spirited in this trade, only various levels of exploitation, degradation and disappointment. The only positive thing to say is that most streetwalkers we have examined successfully maintained their individuality and had some say in the terms by which they made their living.

 

Closely tied to the arguments explored in relation to vagrants using the parks, we see anger and harsh words from people when streetwalkers were considered to have encroached on areas that mainstream society regarded as theirs. Mainstream frustration only became amplified when it was believed that the police and local authorities were not enforcing their notions of decency and decorum, despite the fact that they were often unable to distinguish prostitutes from respectable woman (clear evidence that there was no ‘one-size-fits-all’ category of streetwalker then, and why there should be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ streetwalker in historic appraisals).

 

The Whitechapel murder victims are useful for historians in that the details of their lives are possibly more comprehensive than the histories of any other streetwalker from the era. We see that far from developing and relying on an extensive network of support, these women were frequently forced to work the streets on their own, battling just to keep a roof over their heads. In their minds there was still one final and terrible fall within the so-called ‘Abyss’ – vagrancy.

 

 

References

1) White, Jerry, London in the Nineteenth Century

(JonathanCape, 2007), p.90

2) Vasili, Paul, The World of London (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Riverton, 1885), p.iv

3) Inwood, Stephen, City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London (Macmillan, 2005), p.378

4) Gilnert, Ed, East End Chronicles (Penguin, 2006), p.87

5) Inwood, City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London, p.7

6) Ibid, p.8

7) Baker, H. Barton, Stories of the Streets of London (Chapman and Hall, 1899), p.65

8) Inwood, City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London, p.278

9) White, London in the Nineteenth Century, p.58

10) Constaple, Hope, London After Dark, (H Clements, 1894), p.52

11) Ibid, p.55

12) Idem

13) Morrison, Arthur, Whitechapel, The Palace Journal (24 April, 1889), www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

14) Cowper, Katie, (Knowles James, editor), Some experience of work in an East End district, Nineteenth Century Vol.18 July-December (Kegan Paul, Trench, 1885), p.785-86

15) Work 16/508

16) Inwood, City of Cities: The Birth of Modern London, p.95

17) Steadman-Jones, Gareth, Outcast London: A study in the relationship between classes in Victorian Society (Peregrine Books, 1976), p.287

18) London, Jack, The People of the Abyss (Pluto Classic, 2001 [First published in 1903]), p.3

19) Ibid, p.151

20) Ibid, p.152

21) Ibid, p.49

22) Booth, Charles, Condition and Occupation of the People: Tower Hamlets 1886-1887 (Edward Stanford, 1887), p.28

23) Reaney, G S, How to help; or Pen and Pencil Sketches of the East End (James Nisbet, 1888), p.23

24) Besant, Walter, East London (Chatto & Windus, 1903), p.240

25) Machray, Robert, The Night Side of London (Bibliophile Books, 1984 [first published in 1902]), p.18

26) Idem

27) Pearsall, Ronald, The Worm in the Bud (Sutton, 2003), p.284

28) Krausse, A S, Starving London: The story of a three weeks’ sojourn among the destitute (Remington, 1896), p.51

29) Idem

30) Ibid, p.52

31) Constaple, London After Dark, p.7

32) Ibid, p.32

33) Ibid, p.35

34) Letter from Mr. Cavanagh to Metropolitan Police, 1887, Mepo 2/181, National Archives

35) Baker, H. Barton, Stories of the Streets of London (Chapman and Hall, 1899), p.253

36) Constaple, London After Dark, p.20

37) Ibid, p.20-23

38) Ibid, p.23

39) London, The People of the Abyss, p.59

40) Idem

41) Ibid, p.60

42) Police report, 3/8/1887, National Archives, Mepo 2/181

43) London, The People of the Abyss, p.61

44) Ibid, p.62

45) Article on Vagrants in Hyde Park, Saturday Review, September 1901, National Archives, Work 16/508

46) ‘Yours of Bayswater’, Reply to editor, Saturday Review, September 1901, National Archives, Work 16/508

47) Letter by Cecil Raleigh to the Office of Works, 19/03/1902, National Archives, Work 16/508

48) Letter by C. Stewart, Clerk of LondonCounty Council to the Office of Works, 14/09/1898, National Archives, Work 16/508

49) Idem

50) Police report dated 01/09/1887, National Archives, Mepo 2/181

51) The Daily Chronicle, editorial comment, 17/07/1903, National Archives, Work 16/508

52) The Daily Telegraph, editorial comment, 13/04/1904, National Archives, Work 16/508

53) Besant, Walter, East London (Chatto & Windus, 1903), p.238

54) Ibid, p.248

55) Booth, William, In Darkest England (William Burgess, 1890), p.30

56) Ibid, p.27

57) Idem

58) Idem

59) Ibid, p.28

60) Idem

61) Idem

62) Idem

63) Morning Post, On the Thames Embankment, 29/12/1897, National Archives, Mepo 2/645, p.7

64) Ibid, p.7

65) Idem

66) Ibid, p.9

67) Morning Post, clipping, February 1898, National Archives, Mepo 2/645

68) Morning Post, On the Thames Embankment, 29/12/1897, National Archives, Mepo 2/645, p.9

69) Idem

70) Morning Post , clipping, February 1898, National Archives, Mepo 2/645

71) Police report dated 18/02/1898

72) Police notes on the prosecution of Edith Hill for breaching Vagrancy Act, 1890, National Archives, Mepo 2/242

73) Walkowitz, Judith, Prostitution and Victorian Society (Cambridge university Press, 1980), p.16

74) Idem

75) Ibid, p.17

76) Ibid, p.19

77) Ibid, p.13

78) Ibid, p.17

79) Pearsall, Ronald, The Worm in the Bud (Sutton, 2003), p.299

80) Ibid, p.295-96

81) Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society, p.13

82) White, London in the Nineteenth Century, p.309

83) Booth, In Darkest England, p.50

84) London, The People of the Abyss, p.137-138

85) Chesney, The Victorian Underworld, p.317

86) Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society, p.29

87) White, London in the Nineteenth Century, p.314-15

88) Chesney, The Victorian Underworld, p.334

89) Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society, p.20

90) Chesney, The Victorian Underworld, p.316

91) Constaple, London After Dark, p.15

92) Idem

93) Ibid, p.16

94) Cozens, Thomas J, A, Dark Deed: A Tale of Modern Life (founded on fact) (Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, 1890), p.53

95) Machray, Robert, The Night Side of London (Bibliophile Books, 1984 [first published in 1902]), p.16

96) London, The People of the Abyss, p.59-60

97) Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society, p.29

98) Girouard, Mark, Victorian Pubs (Studio Vista, 1975), p.17

99) Files relating to the prosecution of Alfred Rubery landlord of the Wayland Tavern for allowing prostitutes to frequent his premises, National Archives, Mepo 2/384

100) The Daily News ‘An Autumn Evening in Whitechapel’, 03/11/1888,

www.casebook.org/victorian_london/autumnev.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

101) London, The People of the Abyss, p.152

102) Idem

103) Idem

104) Letter by Mr. Elton to police complaining of streetwalkers in Endersleigh Gardens, 22/02/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/293

105) Letter by Mr. Stocken to police complaining of streetwalkers in Endersleigh Gardens, 22/02/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/293

106) Police report on interview with Mr. Elton, 26/02/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/293

107) Police report on fellow-up interview with Mr. Stocken, 03/03/1892

108) Police report on follow-up interview with Mr. Elton, 26/02/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/293

109) Police report on prostitutes in Hyde Park, 18/07/1892, National Archives, Mepo 2/5815

110) Police report on prostitutes in Hyde Park, 27/08/1894, National Archives, Mepo 2/5815

111) Police report on discussion with the Colonel of 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, 28/8/1903

112) Pick-me-up No 46, Vol II. August 17, 1889

113) Booth, In Darkest England, p.53

114) Begg, Paul, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History (Pearson, 2005), p.105

115) Horsler, Val, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper (National Archives, 2007), p.26

116) Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p.107

117) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.26

118) Casebook.org, Polly Nichols, www.casebook.org/victims/polly.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

119) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.28

120) Casebook.org Annie Chapman, www.casebook.org/victims/chapman.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

121) Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p.188

122) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.36

123) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.36

124) Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p.292

125) Ibid, p.289

126) Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p.290

127) Idem

128) Casebook.org Mary Jane Kelly, www.casebook.org/victims/mary_jane_kelly.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

129) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.68

130) Idem

131) Casebook.org Mary Jane Kelly, www.casebook.org/victims/mary_jane_kelly.html, www.casebook.org (27/8/2007)

132) Horsler, Crime Archive: Jack the Ripper, p.68

133) Chesney, Kellow, The Victorian Underworld (History Book Club, 1970), p.319

134) Cardinal Manning, (Knowles James, editor), A Pleading for the Worthless, Nineteenth Century Vol.23 Jan-June (Kegan Paul, Trench, 1888), p.134

135) Reaney, G S, How to help; or Pen and Pencil Sketches of the East End (James Nisbet, 1888), p.83

 

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Creed of the Assassins

 

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William Morris and the Thames

 

New York Saloons 1845-1895

 

TheTwilight City

 

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