Introduction

in City of beasts
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William Hogarth’s Second Stage of Cruelty (1751), one of the most iconic images of Georgian London, is part of a rich seam of evidence of the prevalence and influence of animals in the city but most social, urban and economic histories overlook these actors. At the same time, some scholars have diminished the contribution made by animals by portraying them as victims, nuisances or reducing them to metaphors. Previous British animal studies have focused too heavily on middling and elite words rather than seeking to tell a history from below based on the experiences of those who lived and worked most closely with animals. Despite obvious inequalities in power relations, the city’s horses, livestock and dogs demonstrated agency in diverse and dramatic ways, sometimes by obstructing human activity but also by empowering Georgian Londoners. These entwined lives played a central role in the city’s development in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

City of beasts

How animals shaped Georgian London

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