The former Monmouth Street in London: women and children playing and men sitting and standing while smoking pipes, with items for sale hanging outside shops. Etching by George Cruikshank, 1839.

  • Cruikshank, George, 1792-1878.
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Not the street off Seven Dials called Monmouth Street since the 1930s (in Dickens's day known as Little St Andrew's Street and Great St Andrew's Street), but another street nearby, built over when Shaftesbury Avenue was created in 1886-1887 (Allingham, loc. cit.) The details of the print are Cruikshank's, not mentioned in the essay by Dickens. Outside the corner shop are Moses Levy, his wife and child, all portrayed as stereotype Jews. Next to Levy stands Clipe the tailor, whose workshop is on the first floor. P. Patch sits outside his shop while his wife stands holding a child, conversing with another woman with a child who addresses her from the cellar. In the foreground, children play in the dirty water of the gutter

"Although surely as much a residential as well as a business area, Monmouth Street in Cruikshank's 1839 illustration focuses as much on the three families as it does on the three businesses: P. Patch (second-hand clothing, centre), the boot and shoe shop (right, but displaying two women's dresses and a large bonnet), and a used hat-shop (left) run by two Jewish entrepreneurs, "Moses & Levy" [sic] (the second-hand clothing trade being a niche in the 19th c. British economy dominated by Jewish families). Under the watchful eyes of three mothers and three fathers, scruffy boys and little girls in frocks play and explore the world in the stream of the kennel, communally floating a toy boat and fishing as if they were denizens of the Upper Thames. While the men desultorily smoke long-stemmed pipes, the young women tend infants and (presumably) assist in the administration of these "family businesses" in the graveyard of old clothes, in which children play happily, blissfully unaware of the revenants of past lives hanging up behind them."--Allingham, loc. cit. The fascia on the corner shop is inscribed "Moses Levy", referring to one person, not "two Jewish entrepreneurs"


[London] : [Chapman and Hall], [1839]

Physical description

1 print : etching ; image 12 x 10 cm


George Cruikshank

References note

Philip V. Allingham, 'Meditations in Monmouth Street', The Victorian web


Wellcome Collection 29762i



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