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Slum Travelers: Ladies and London Poverty

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Slum Travelers: Ladies and London Poverty, 1860-1920. Edited with Introductions by Ellen Ross. (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2007. Pg. 342. Illustrations.) ISBN 13: 978-0-520-24906-6.

Reviewed by Angela Evans - August 6, 2007

In the period from 1860 through the end of World War I, the poorer, urban areas of Britain began to experience a unique influx of visitors - middle and upper-class women! This phenomenon is documented in Slum Travelers: Ladies and London Poverty, 1860-1920. Edited by Ellen Ross, this book consists of twenty-four selections garnered from reports, accounts, and articles written by middle and upper class women who ventured into the slums of London in an attempt to aid the poor. Also included are a few fiction selections. These eyewitness reports span from 1860 to 1920, and they present a glimpse into an aspect of British history that is usually told from the male perspective.

The writers in this book range from such well-know figures as Beatrice Webb and Mother Kate (Katherine Anne Egerton Warburton), as well as obscure figures such as Maude Stanley and Honnor Morten. Each selection is introduced by a brief biography of the writer, and on occasion some additional historical information about the period in which the writer lived. When available, a bibliography of 'further readings' related to the writer or topic is provided. These selections not only provide a unique account of what life was like in the slums of London, but they also helps to illuminate the varied reasons why these women left their comfortable lives to venture into the slums to help the poor.

The selections in this text are organized in two ways. Firstly, the table of contents is organized alphabetically by the author's last name. Toward the end of the book, you'll also find a list of the texts arranged thematically into such catagorize as: Slum Travelers is an invaluable resource for academicians and students interested in subjects ranging from Urban and Women's studies to history and social science. This book will also fascinate general readers and writers interested in gaining insight into what life was like in the slums of London during this period - as well as the numerous reasons that well-to-do women ventured into this unsavory world to engage in social and religious endeavors geared to raising the poor out of poverty.

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