Image (top) courtesy of The Internet Archive / University of Connecticut Libraries
City of Beasts offers a panoramic new perspective on Georgian London placing animals centre stage in the major debates of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century English social and urban history.
The book reveals the extraordinary contribution which horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and dogs made to the world’s first modern metropolis, as well as the huge challenges which they posed.
By the early 1800s, an estimated 31,000 horses were at work in and around the city, while around the same number of sheep and cattle were driven through the streets every week. No other settlement in Europe or North America had ever accommodated so many large four-legged animals, or felt their influence so profoundly.
Following in their hoof- and paw-prints, this book reappraises London’s role in the industrial, agricultural and consumer revolutions, as well as key aspects of the city’s culture, social relations and physical development. In doing so, it calls for animals to be accorded agency and integrated into social and urban history.
Moving away from the philosophical, fictional and humanitarian sources which have dominated English animal studies, this book focuses on evidence of tangible, dung-bespattered interactions between real people and animals drawn from legal, parish, commercial, newspaper and private records. As a result, it offers new insights into the lived experiences of Georgian Londoners, as well as the workings and character of a city about which we still have much to discover.
1. Mill horse
2. Draught horse
3. Animal husbandry
4. Meat on the hoof
5. Consuming horses
6. Horsing around
7. Watch dogs
Both images courtesy of Yale Centre for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.