The Wilds of London by James Greenwood (1874) hardcover book


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James Greenwood with Twelve Illustrations by Alfred Concanen - The Wilds of London

London: Chatto and Windus, Picadilly, 1874 (no other editions of printings listed). Hardcover. 8vo. No dust jacket. Illustrated. 364pp. Poor condition (though apropos for a book of this nature...would you want a pair of Converse sparkling and clean? Did Rosemary Kennedy wear a black dress? Exactly). Brown illustrated boards (illustrations and lettering at the spine both in gold gilt). The most unprepossessing copies of this title...but also the only (presumed first edition) copy I could find for sale on the entire internet. The binding is shaky but mostly in-tact. The boards are frayed and discolored. The pages are fragile. There has been some darning to the inner hinges. There is a mysterious black mark on the upper spine. There are some pencil annotations throughout (though not many). The pages are toned from staining and age. There is the name “Walter M. Holmes” pasted to the upper edge of the rear, inner board. There is a Binder’s sticker pasted to the lower left-hand corner of the aforementioned rear, inner board stating that this very copy was “Bound by Leighton Son and Hodge.”

I cannot stress enough the shabbiness of this copy...but I also cannot stress enough how fitting it is for this title. It really does give character to this book. It would not look out of place tucked beneath the weathered arm of the Artful Dodger.

The author, James Greenwood was a British journalist with interests in true crime, the poor, working conditions of the impoverished and the like,. His articles examined the seedy underbelly of London town in the latter half of the 1800s. Greenwood went where others wouldn’t or couldn’t (as seemingly respectable gentlemen and women). Greenwood accomplished this by dressing as a “tramp” and presenting himself as a fellow citizen of the Underworld. He was a prototypical undercover investigative journalist. His articles caused many a scandal.

This is a truly special book and is an absolute must for any students of journalism, history, and/or true crime. Extremely scarce.

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