Mayhew at 200 – Full Programme

The full programme of papers for the Henry Mayhew bicentenary gathering, sponsored by HCRI at the University of Manchester, is below.

Please contact for venue and registration details.


London Labour and the London Poor  (Panel Chair: Prof. Karel Williams)

Dr Donna Loftus, ‘Work, modernity and social inquiry in nineteenth-century London: from Mayhew to Booth’

Leslie Anne Hendra, ‘Henry Mayhew’s Co-Author: Henry Wood of Richmond, Yorkshire’

Dr Neil Pemberton, ‘Animals and people in Henry Mayhew’s London Labour


Mayhew as Author  (Panel Chair: Dr Julie-Marie Strange)

Prof. Carolyn Steedman, `Mayhew: On Reading, About Writing’

Prof. Denis Mollison, ‘Mayhew in the Lake District’

Dr Catherine Feely, “What say you to free trade in literature?’ Henry Mayhew, The Thief and the politics of piracy in the 1830s’


Visualising Mayhew  (Panel Chair: Prof. Bertrand Taithe)

Owen Clayton, ‘Mayhew and the urban picturesque: hybrid photographies in London Labour and the London Poor

Karl Sabbagh, ‘Voices of Victorian London’ – BBC ‘Timewatch’ Film Screening


Roundtable discussion: Karel Williams, Bertrand

Mayhew and Booth in comparison…

Many thanks to Dr Donna Loftus of the Open University for allowing us to give the following preview of her paper – entitled ‘Work, modernity and social inquiry in nineteenth-century London: from Mayhew to Booth’ – which will be delivered at the upcoming Mayhew at 200 anniversary workshop.

“This paper compares Mayhew and Booth’s investigations into work in Victorian London. Developing the work of O’Day and Englander, it argues that the two inquiries make better sense when related to each other. Both made claims to objectivity, were ambivalent about the usefulness of political economy for framing their investigations and both identified competition as the factor that impoverished workers. At the same time, in different ways, their uncritical assumption about middle-class norms of individuality, thrift and value made it difficult for them to fully understand or explain the economic decisions of the working poor. The paper argues that, taken together, Mayhew and Booth’s treatment of work in London provides important insights into shifts in contemporary responses to capitalism and, in particular, the assumptions that were made about modernity, the future and acceptable alternatives to competitive capitalism.”

If you would like to hear the whole paper, please e-mail to register interest in attending!

Some of our papers…

The programme for the workshop has come together very nicely, with a good mix of established historians, early career academics and independent researchers. Full programme to follow, but here are a few paper titles to whet the appetite.

Professor Carolyn Steedman offers us the intriguing `Mayhew: On Reading, About Writing’; Dr Catherine Feely will examine Mayhew’s appropriately named and brazenly plagiarising journal The Thief in her contribution,  ‘What say you to free trade in literature?’ Henry Mayhew, The Thief and the politics of piracy in the 1830s’; finally, Leslie Anne Hendra’s paper on ‘Henry Mayhew’s Co-Author: Henry Wood of Richmond, Yorkshire’, promises a controversial view of Mayhew and his supposed ‘back-room boy’.

Henry Mayhew: Poverty and the Middle Classes – The Other Victorian Bicentenary

23rd November 2012, University of Manchester

Speakers confirmed include Carolyn Steedman, Bertrand Taithe, Donna Loftus, Karl Sabbagh and HENRY MAYHEW

In celebration of Henry Mayhew’s 200th anniversary in November 2012,  HCRI (Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester) is glad to invite postgraduates, the public and scholars to re-visit the world of Victorian Poverty and the complex work of Henry Mayhew, journalist and wit, playwright, founder of Punch, educational writer, novelist for children, travel writer, hack and social explorer – author of London Labour and the London Poor.  A major contributor to all debates on Victorian poverty and urban life in his lifetime, Henry Mayhew’s work has been an essential part of our understanding of the Victorian era since the 1960s.

Yet Henry Mayhew’s work is still in need of revisiting and further research.  In order to advance our understanding of this neglected yet important author, the University of Manchester will host a one-day workshop on Friday 23 November, two days before his birthday.

For further information, or to register interest, contact Dr Sarah Roddy and Claudia Soares at the following email: