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The smoke of London : energy and environment in the early modern city / William M. Cavert.

  • Cavert, William M.
  • Books

About this work


"The Smoke of London uncovers the origins of urban air pollution, two centuries before the industrial revolution. By 1600, London was a fossil-fueled city, its high-sulfur coal a basic necessity for the poor and a source of cheap energy for its growing manufacturing sector. The resulting smoke was found ugly and dangerous throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, leading to challenges in court, suppression by the crown, doctors' attempts to understand the nature of good air, increasing suburbanization, and changing representations of urban life in poetry and on the London stage. Neither a celebratory account of proto-environmentalism nor a declensionist narrative of degradation, The Smoke of London recovers the seriousness of pre-modern environmental concerns even as it explains their limits and failures. Ultimately, Londoners learned to live with their dirty air, an accommodation that reframes the modern process of urbanization and industrial pollution, both in Britain and beyond"--


Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Physical description

xix, 274 pages ; 24 cm.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 239-266) and index.


Prologue: the smoke of London -- Part I. Transformations -- The early modernity of London -- Fires: London's turn to coal, 1575-1775 -- Airs: smoke and pollution, 1600-1775 -- Part II. Contestations -- Royal spaces: palaces and brewhouses, 1575-1640 -- Nuisance and neighbours -- Smoke in the scientific revolution -- Part III. Fueling Leviathan -- The moral economy of fuel: coal, poverty, and necessity -- Fueling improvement: development, navigation, and revenue -- Regulations: policing markets and suppliers -- Protections: the wartime coal trade -- Part IV. Accommodations -- Evelyn's place: fumifugium and the royal retreat from urban smoke -- Representations: coal smoke as urban life -- Movements: avoiding the smoky city.


  • English

Where to find it

  • Location

    History of Medicine JCI.431.AA6


    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9781107073005
  • 1107073006