City of beasts

How animals shaped Georgian London

This book reveals the extraordinary contribution which horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and dogs made to London, the world’s first modern metropolis, in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, 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 a similar number of sheep and cattle were driven through its 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 offers a panoramic new perspective on Georgian London, challenging orthodox assumptions about its role in the agricultural, consumer and industrial revolutions, as well as reappraising key aspects of the city’s culture, social relations and physical development. In doing so, it argues for non-human animal agency and its integration 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 character and everyday workings of their city.

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