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“Gloomy, close and stale”

by
25 November 2010

“Gloomy, close and stale”: above: Wych Street, Strand, c.1870, was gone by 1903: this picture, looking towards St Clement Danes, is the nearest we can get to Dickens’s fictional slum of Tom-all-Alone’s, writes Andrew Sanders in Charles Dickens’s London (Hale Books, £19.99 (£18); 978-0-7090-8831-8). Further east, Ludgate Street and St Paul’s, c.1850, in a calo­type photograph (below), recall Arthur Clennam’s stay at the London Coffee House at 42 Ludgate Hill (the Family Hotel shown) in Little Dorrit.

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