City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London
From tabloid exposes of child prostitution to the grisly tales of Jack the Ripper, narratives of sexual danger pulsated through Victorian London. Expertly blending social history and cultural criticism, Judith Walkowitz shows how these narratives reveal the complex dramas of power, politics, and sexuality that were being played out in late nineteenth-century Britain, and how they influenced the language of politics, journalism, and fiction.
Victorian London was a world where long-standing traditions of class and gender were challenged by a range of public spectacles, mass media scandals, new commercial spaces, and a proliferation of new sexual categories and identities. In the midst of this changing culture, women of many classes challenged the traditional privileges of elite males and
asserted their presence in the public domain.
An important catalyst in this conflict, argues Walkowitz, was W. T. Stead's widely read 1885 article about child prostitution. Capitalizing on the uproar caused by the piece and the volatile political climate of the time, women spoke of sexual danger, articulating their own grievances against men, inserting themselves into the public discussion of sex to an unprecedented extent, and gaining new entree to public spaces and journalistic practices. The ultimate manifestation of class anxiety and gender antagonism came in 1888 with the tabloid tales of Jack the Ripper. In between, there were quotidien stories of sexual possibility and urban adventure, and Walkowitz examines them all, showing how women were not simply figures in the imaginary landscape of male spectators, but also central actors in the stories of metropolotin life that reverberated in courtrooms, learned journals, drawing rooms, street corners, and in the letters columns of the daily press.
A model of cultural history, this ambitious book will stimulate and enlighten readers across a broad range of interests.
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Annie Besant Armstrong Beatrice Webb Besant Booth British Cambridge campaign chap Charles Cobb crime cultural Daily discussion doctors East End East London Eleanor Marx Eliza England fantasies female Feminism feminist fiction gender Georgina Weldon heterosexual History Ibid Jack the Ripper Jarrett Josephine Butler Journal July Karl Pearson labor ladies late-Victorian letter living lunacy Maiden Tribute Maria Sharpe marriage match girls melodrama middle-class women moral mother narrative newspaper nineteenth century observes Olive Schreiner Outcast London Pall Mall Gazette Pearson Papers Pearson Transcripts police political poor popular pornography poverty prostitutes quoted radical representation Ripper murders Ripper story role Salvation Army Sept sexual danger slum social socialist Society spiritual spiritualists street Sutcliffe Sutcliffe's tion University Press urban exploration victims Victorian W. T. Stead Walkowitz Webb Weldon West End Whitechapel murders Winslow woman Women's Club working-class York Yorkshire Ripper