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May 11, 2012

35 Amazing Vintage Photographs That Capture Street Scenes of London in 1876 and 1877

Street Life in London, published in 1876-1877, consists of a series of articles by the radical journalist Adolphe Smith and the photographer John Thomson.

The pieces are short but full of detail, based on interviews with a range of men and women who eked out a precarious and marginal existence working on the streets of London, including flower-sellers, chimney-sweeps, shoe-blacks, chair-caners, musicians, dustmen and locksmiths.

The subject matter of Street Life was not new – the second half of the 19th century saw an increasing interest in urban poverty and social conditions – but the unique selling point of Street Life was a series of photographs ‘taken from life’ by Thomson. The authors felt at the time that the images lent authenticity to the text, and their book is now regarded as a key work in the history of documentary photography.


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