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One hot summer : Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858 / Rosemary Ashton.

By: Ashton, Rosemary, 1947-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New Haven : Yale University Press, 2017Copyright date: ©2017Description: viii, 338 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780300227260; 0300227264.Subject(s): Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870 -- Influence | Disraeli, Benjamin, 1804-1881 -- Influence | Great Stink, London, England, 1858 | London (England) -- History -- 19th century | London (England) -- Social conditions -- 19th century | Thames River (England) -- History -- 19th centuryDDC classification: 940.5 Summary: A unique, in-depth view of Victorian London during the record-breaking summer of 1858, when residents both famous and now-forgotten endured "The Great Stink" together While 1858 in London may have been noteworthy for its broiling summer months and the related stench of the sewage-filled Thames River, the year is otherwise little remembered. And yet, historian Rosemary Ashton reveals in this compelling microhistory, 1858 was marked by significant, if unrecognized, turning points. For ordinary people, and also for the rich, famous, and powerful, the months from May to August turned out to be a summer of consequence. Ashton mines Victorian letters and gossip, diaries, court records, newspapers, and other contemporary sources to uncover historically crucial moments in the lives of three protagonists-Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Disraeli. She also introduces others who gained renown in the headlines of the day, among them George Eliot, Karl Marx, William Thackeray, and Edward Bulwer Lytton. Ashton reveals invisible threads of connection among Londoners at every social level in 1858, bringing the celebrated city and its citizens vibrantly to life.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

A unique, in-depth view of Victorian London during the record-breaking summer of 1858, when residents both famous and now-forgotten endured "The Great Stink" together

While 1858 in London may have been noteworthy for its broiling summer months and the related stench of the sewage-filled Thames River, the year is otherwise little remembered. And yet, historian Rosemary Ashton reveals in this compelling microhistory, 1858 was marked by significant, if unrecognized, turning points. For ordinary people, and also for the rich, famous, and powerful, the months from May to August turned out to be a summer of consequence.

Ashton mines Victorian letters and gossip, diaries, court records, newspapers, and other contemporary sources to uncover historically crucial moments in the lives of three protagonists--Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Disraeli. She also introduces others who gained renown in the headlines of the day, among them George Eliot, Karl Marx, William Thackeray, and Edward Bulwer Lytton. Ashton reveals invisible threads of connection among Londoners at every social level in 1858, bringing the celebrated city and its citizens vibrantly to life.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

A unique, in-depth view of Victorian London during the record-breaking summer of 1858, when residents both famous and now-forgotten endured "The Great Stink" together While 1858 in London may have been noteworthy for its broiling summer months and the related stench of the sewage-filled Thames River, the year is otherwise little remembered. And yet, historian Rosemary Ashton reveals in this compelling microhistory, 1858 was marked by significant, if unrecognized, turning points. For ordinary people, and also for the rich, famous, and powerful, the months from May to August turned out to be a summer of consequence. Ashton mines Victorian letters and gossip, diaries, court records, newspapers, and other contemporary sources to uncover historically crucial moments in the lives of three protagonists-Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Disraeli. She also introduces others who gained renown in the headlines of the day, among them George Eliot, Karl Marx, William Thackeray, and Edward Bulwer Lytton. Ashton reveals invisible threads of connection among Londoners at every social level in 1858, bringing the celebrated city and its citizens vibrantly to life.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • List of illustrations (p. vi)
  • Prologue (p. 1)
  • 1 1858 in history (p. 8)
  • Moments of consequence
  • The rise of Disraeli
  • Medicine and marriage
  • Literature and art
  • 2 May 1858 (p. 46)
  • Dickens in distress
  • Derby Day
  • Marriage mischief
  • 3 June 1858, part I (p. 84)
  • Darwin and the pursuit of science
  • Dickens dissolves his marriage
  • Midsummer madness
  • Meltdown in Clubland
  • 4 June 1858, part II (p. 121)
  • The silver Thames
  • Queen Victoria, Cruiser, and the Great Eastern
  • Crinolineomania
  • More marriage troubles
  • Darwin's dilemma
  • 5 July 1858 (p. 158)
  • Darwin in distress
  • 'Mad' wives and vengeful husbands
  • Disraeli tames the Thames
  • Rothschild enters the Commons at last
  • 6 July-August 1858 (p. 195)
  • Hot heads at the Garrick Club
  • Dickens on tour
  • The exploits of Dickens's Mr Stryver
  • Disraeli's whitebait dinner
  • 7 The aftermath of the hot summer (p. 235)
  • The fallout from the Garrick Club affair
  • Success and embarrassment for Dickens
  • The end of the Robinson case
  • Darwin triumphant
  • Epilogue (p. 275)
  • The year in pantomime
  • One hot summer's consequences
  • Endnotes (p. 287)
  • Select bibliography (p. 314)
  • Index (p. 321)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

The summer of 1858 was one of the hottest on record in London. The heat combined with sewage in the Thames to create the "Great Stink," which finally drove Parliament to undertake the cleanup of the river. Ashton (Emeritus Quain Professor of English Language and Literature, Univ. Coll. London; Victorian Bloomsbury) traces the progress of the Thames Purification Bill under the guidance of Chancellor of the Exchequer Benjamin Disraeli during that summer. She also discusses other stinks of 1858. For example, Disraeli oversaw the passage of the bill that put India under British rather than East India Company rule following the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. Charles Dickens publicly separated from his wife. Edward Bulwer-Lytton sought to have his wife declared insane. Edmund Yates satirized William Makepeace Thackeray, who retaliated by having him expelled from the Garrick Club. One event that caused no stink was the reading and publication that summer of Charles Darwin's and Alfred Russel Wallace's papers on natural selection, though when On the Origin of Species appeared in November 1859 another great stink arose. VERDICT An enjoyable account of an eventful summer in mid-Victorian England.--Joseph Rosenblum, Univ. of North -Carolina, Greensboro © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Book Review

A snapshot of Victorian London during a sweltering season rife with scandals and smells.The "great stink" came from the Thames, into which the city had unwisely been dumping untreated sewage for years. It reached crisis proportions in June 1858, "either the hottest or the second-hottest month on record," as the temperature peaked at over 100 degrees. The Thames Purification Bill, which laid down broad financial and administrative outlines for cleaning up the river, was one of several controversial acts skillfully maneuvered through a fractious Parliament that summer by Benjamin Disraeli, flagged in the book's subtitle along with Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin as the putative co-subjects of this rambling narrative by Ashton (Emeritus, English Language and Literature/Univ. Coll. London; Victorian Bloomsbury, 2012, etc.). In fact, the scandal over Dickens' public separation from his wife and the stir created by the first public reading of Darwin's ideas on natural selection share space with numerous other topics, including a juicy divorce trial involving his wife's racy diary; cabinet member Edward Bulwer Lytton's attempt to dispose of his difficult wife by having her involuntarily confined to an asylum; and a contretemps at the Garrick Club that resulted in the bitter estrangement of Dickens and fellow novelist William Thackeray. Ashton favors a highly episodic approach she calls "microhistory," which seems to mean rehashing the minute particulars of contemporary periodicals now available digitally; it "can uncover hitherto hidden connections, patterns, and structures," she asserts, but readers may feel it mostly serves as justification for the author to skip among a plethora of not-particularly-related topics, taking an impressionistic approach to chronology that does not make for clarity. Still, her rather sloppy text is partly redeemed by vivid character sketches and a breezy writing style. History lite, but an agreeable diversion for undemanding general readers. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.