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Brand: Karl Sabbagh

The Wayward Genius Of Henry Mayhew

by Karl Sabbagh

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The Wayward Genius Of Henry Mayhew : Pioneering reportage from Victorian London

The 200th anniversary of Henry Mayhew's birth is overshadowed by that of his friend and collaborator Charles Dickens. But in fact Mayhew was a pioneering investigative journalist whose writings and descriptions may have inspired some of Dickens' characters. In some respects, Mayhew was his own worst enemy.

He was disorganised - one of his books ended in mid-sentence - and cantankerous, and perhaps as a result his funeral was sparsely attended. But embedded in his fine reportage, which included long and moving interviews with Londoners, are passages descriptive of London, of people's appearances and of their shabby homes, which stand alongside Dickens' own writings for the quality and compassion of the prose.

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