Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"The Flavour, Noise, Colour and Drama of the London Street Scene"

Sherlock Holmes and a multitude of his rivals prowled the streets of the world's most cosmopolitan city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While Robert Machray's book gives mystery fans a good feel for that time and place, he does caution us:
. . . This book is not by way of being a complete record of the Night Side of London, though it is perhaps as complete as there is any object in making it.
Two or three of the more familiar phases of London by night have not been reproduced or touched upon; there is nothing, for instance, said about St. Martin's le Grand at midnight, or about a newspaper-office at two or three o'clock in the morning, or about the Chinese opium-dens in the East End.
Nor is there a chapter on the River by Night; application was made to the Commissioner of Police for permission to accompany one of the river police-boats on its "rounds," but it was refused.
And for obvious reasons nothing is said about the worst and most devilish features of the Night Side of London. For those who wish to become acquainted with these hideous things, are there not guides to be found lurking near the entrances of some of the great hotels of London—just as is the case in Paris? — The Night Side of London, pages v-vi
By Robert Machray (1857-1946).
J. B. Lippincott.
1902. 300 pages.
With copious illustrations by Tom Browne.
Online HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Edwardian London at play recorded during the first two years of the 20th century (1902-3). The artist, illustrator Tom Browne and author Robert Machray worked together, visiting places along the famous River Thames. From Piccadilly Circus at midnight, Jimmy's at 12.30 a.m., a coffee stall at Hyde Park Corner and another in New Oxford Street at 2 a.m., people standing in little groups, a burglar, singing in the street, shouting shrill abuse, down goes the drunken man flat on his back, the American girl, the restaurant dinner, a crowd on the great staircase—these are just some of the names of Browne's marvellous pen and ink sketches or paintings which capture the flavour, noise, colour and drama of the London street scene. — Bibliophile Books description
- We have encountered Robert Machray previously in his capacity as mystery author HERE.

Category: Nonfiction

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