[Review] Scenes of London Life by Charles Dickens

Publisher and Publication Date: Macmillan Collector’s Library. This book was first published in 1947. My copy was published in 2018.
Genre: Fiction. Brief chapters from Charles Dickens book, Sketches by Boz published in 1839.
Pages: 184.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Library.
Audience: Charles Dickens readers. Readers with an interest in life during the Victorian era.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link. The Kindle is $1.99 on this day.

Selections and introduction are by J. B. Priestley.

Illustrations are by George Cruikshank.


In the early years of Charles Dickens’ writing career, before he had a family, before he’d written a book, he was a reporter in England. He worked for the Morning Chronicle. He was considered a Special Correspondent. Later the Evening Chronicle hired him. His writings are of life in England. Later, a book was written and compiled from his earlier writings titled Sketches by Boz.

The chapters:

“Public Dinners”
“Shops and Their Tenants”
“London Recreations”
“A Visit to Newgate”
“The River”
“Meditations in Monmouth Street”
“The First of May”
“Greenwich Fair”
“The Pawnbroker’s Shop”
“The Last Cab-Driver”
“Private Theatres”

My Thoughts:

Some of the chapters I did not enjoy. They were not of interest to me, but I did read the entire book.

My favorite by far is the chapter, “A Visit to Newgate.”

This is the London of the 1830s. And Newgate is its own community inside London.

It is a peek inside a world that is unique. It is certainly not written about in other books from this era.

Dickens took a tour of the place and writes of the various rooms and wards inside the prison. The places where the men are and the places where the women are.

There is an area for those who will be executed.

The children of the inmates live there, but there is an area for those inmates who are boys under the age of 14.

There is an area for the “respectable class” of men.

I learned the definition of the word turnkey. I’ve heard that word outside of this book, but until now I did not know what the word meant. A turnkey is exactly what it implies, the person who opens the door, guards’ prisoners, a jailer.

This book is small enough to fit in a pocket.

It is lovely with gold edging.

A light blue ribbon is attached to it.


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