I read this years ago as an antidote to all the English literature I was reading that I loved, but that primarily concerned the upper class: Austen, Wodehouse, Bronte, Saki, Trollope, Sayers, Christie, and so on. I wanted to know more about the rest of London (and English) society. Well-known journalist Henry Mayhew first published his research into "The Condition and Earnings of Those That Will Work, Cannot Work, and Will Not Work" in the newspaper, and then expanded his work into four volumes. This selection from those volumes fit the bill for me. Largely vivid, first-person accounts from London's underprivileged, combined with fascinating statistics and Mayhew's practical and compassionate views. Far more than a dry historical record. One thing that I found interesting is the number of things for sale on the street: everything from children's gilt watches to groundsel & chickweed to needles to dog collars to hot eel soup & hot elderflower wine. There wasn't much you couldn't buy from a street vendor. And imagine the amazing clamor of all the voices crying out their wares!