Sunday, 29 November 2009

A Child of the Jago: Arthur Morrison

The tragic story of the doomed Dick Perrot, a young denizen of Morrison's "Jago" - a fictionalised account of life in the Old Nichol - was first published in 1896. The characters may be fictional, any student of the subject will instantly recognise the surroundings, and indeed many of the individuals and events that pass through the story.

Brutal, nihilistic, but a superb representation of life in London's late-Victorian slums.

The setting is discussed in more academic detail in Sarah Wise's "The Blackest Streets".

The book is available through Amazon: buy a copy, then sit and read it in Dirty Dick's pub, near Liverpool St station. Almost untouched by the passage of time, Dirty Dick's was hugely popular with those residents of the Old Nichol at the time the book was written: It was also the scene of one of the most brutal gangland fights of the day, when Arthur Harding vanquished his arch-rival, the pimp and hooligan Darky the Coon. Darky went on to win a chest-full of medals in the trenches, and Albert was to become onr of the last survivors of the Old Nichol.

Learn more about Arthur, and hear his voice here:

Arthur Morrison: A Child of the Jago (1995 edition) Academy Chicago publishers
Monitor link Monitor link