Times Educational Supplement Partner badge

Film Education - Resources, Training, Events

Skip to main content

Follow us on: Twitter, Facebook RSS
Email this page to a friend

Oliver Twist

Street Life

Streetlife graphic - image of busy street, with horses and carriages, public houses, crowds of people

The squalor of the London streets was a fascination for Dickens and is dominant in many of his novels. The abject poverty juxtaposed against the wealth and beauty of the metropolis is quite astonishing. The streets were always full of life, full of people from pickpockets to elegant ladies out shopping. The poverty in certain areas left people starving, children dying of disease and prostitutes working in filthy conditions. It was a rich city full of layers; various classes and both genders were thrown into the midst of the capital together, some ignored those beneath them, some helped them make a better life.

"A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy and the air was impregnated with filthy odours. There were a good many small shops; but the only stock in trade appeared to be heaps of children, who, even at that time of night, were crawling in and out at the doors, or screaming from the inside. The sole places that seemed to prosper, amid the general blight of the place were the public houses."


See Also

Street Life
Fagin's Den

Related Activities

Death, Diet and Disease
Crime and Punishment

Elsewhere on the web

A Happy Victorian Britain?
What the Victorians Did for Us
The British Empire & Commonwealth Museum