London - Urban explorers and commentators

The East End and urban poverty

Author: Andrew Mearns

Title: The Bitter Cry of Outcast London (1883)

Keywords: London

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Introduction

Andrew Mearns, a Congregationalist clergyman, was born in Ayrshire in 1837. He published this work in pamphlet form in 1883. His overall focus is upon the physical and moral condition of Londonís slums, not least overcrowding and its consequences, sensationally numbering incest among the latter. He describes conditions as he saw them during walks into those poorer areas of London that wealthier urban dwellers were unlikely ever to experience first-hand. The pamphlet came to the attention of W.T. Stead, the journalist and editor of the controversial Pall Mall Gazette, whose promotion of the work compounded the sensational response to its content. The furore prompted churches to establish missions in the East End, in an attempt to alleviate the misery Mearns describes. Mearns died in Somerset in 1925.

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