During the period covered by this book - from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the First World War - London was unique in its immensity, and supremely representative of our modern urban world in the making. Its overall size, rate of growth, and the increasingly dense and diverse crowds that flowed through its streets, were paralleled in the vast contemporary outpouring of writing about this great city. The Moving Pageant assembles a rich and varied selection of this abundance of writing, from those including Daniel Defoe, James Boswell, Horace Warpole, Flora Tristan, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Henry James, Oscar Wilde and H.G. Wells, among many others. Spanning public and private, documentary and imaginative, the writings collected here evoke the physical and social atmosphere and the cultural life of London's streets and other sites of ceremony and popular assembly. Representing many genres and styles of writing the volume contains street-ballads and music-hall songs, excerpts from novels, epic and mock-epic poems, accounts of riots, executions and sword-and-buckler fights as well as of state pageants and processions.
Complete with an editor's introduction, illustrations, and biographical and critical commentaries on each of the writers' entries, The Moving Pageant is unique in its rich diversity and historical range.
Rick Allen is Principal Lecturer in English at Anglia Polytechnic University in Cambridge.