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142 Strand
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142 Strand was the home of the brilliant, unconventional young publisher John Chapman. All the daring and avant-garde writers and thinkers of Victorian London gathered here, among them Thomas Carlyle, Dickens, Thackeray, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, and the scientist Thomas Henry Huxley (Darwin's 'bulldog'), as well as visiting Americans like Emerson, refugees from revolutionary Europe like Mazzini, and radical feminists like Barbara Leigh Smith, later founder of Girton College, Cambridge. They contributed to Chapman's campaigning Westminster Review and attended his lively evening parties. In 1851 Chapman brought Marian Evans - the future George Eliot - to London to edit the Review. Her arrival caused rows in the household, which included Chapman's wife and also his mistress. The Strand was packed with booksellers, magazine publishers, theatres, clubs, and quack doctors. Just behind lay the brothels of Covent Garden and the disreputable pornographers of Holywell Street, while Westminster and the Houses of Parliament were a short distance away. Chapman's circle touched all these worlds, and the vivid story of these unconventional lives and unorthodox views - marvellously
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A fascinating 'microhistory' not just of an address, but of a whole social circle and creative period.

About the Author

Rosemary Ashton is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London. She is the author of acclaimed critical biographies of Coleridge, George Henry Lewes and George Eliot and Thomas and Jane Carlyle- Portrait of a Marriage.

Reviews

"This is a portrait skilfully drawn in the round...brilliantly captured" -- Rosemary Hill * Sunday Times * "Wonderfully researched and absorbing account" -- Philip Hoare * Observer * "Rosemary Ashton tells his story [John Chapman's] with both aplomb and scholarship. Anyone wanting to deepen their knowledge of London's intellectual life at this time will find her book indispensable" -- Simon Heffer * Spectator * "Rivetingly entertaining" -- AN Wilson * Observer, Books of the Year * "On the intellectual debates...that exercised these characters she is excellent, describing books and linking ideas with panache. There are, too, many moments when the story of 142 Strand comes very vividly to life" -- Matthew Sturgis * Sunday Telegraph *

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