Review: Rosemary Ashton’s “142 Strand: A Radical Address in Victorian London”

by writereaderly

rosemary ashton 142 strandIt makes you question what you consider “radical” politics to be, really. In Victorian England, it was wrangling with medical laws, wrestling with doctrinal differences between Christianities and humanisms, championing evolution and recognising that monogamous marriage ain’t the only way to live. 142 Strand was the centre of London’s radical Unitarian intellectuals in mid-19th century London, the home and office of bookseller John Chapman, the philanderer and energised dreamer who acted as the enabler for renowned philosophers and writers such as Harriet Martineau, George Eliot (when she was Marian Evans), G.H. Lewes, Thomas Carlyle, Thomas Huxley, &c &c. Ashton’s “biography of a circle” explores the professional and personal stoushes and victories of Chapman’s intellectuals, and is moderately interesting as an exposé of the intricacies of 19th century publishing. Best recommended to true fans, I do feel better informed about the period than I was a week ago; shame none of those writers &c are among my particular favourites.

Where it came from: Sponsored shopping at the car-boot market
Time and manner of reading:
A few evening armchair reads and a mid-morning lie-in
Where it went: RB
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to:
Historical literati
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

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