Putting People on the Page: Material Culture as a Way in to Everyday Life behind the Facades of Tallis’s London Street Views

Lesley Hoskins

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Tallis’s Street Views describe London as a commercial and professional centre but the visual representation of the street elevations gives an impression of quiet emptiness; it is hard to get a sense of the activity in and around the businesses portrayed. The household inventory of one of Tallis’s advertisers, a dentist who died in 1850, suggests a way of redressing this. An interpretive reading of the list of the dentist’s belongings, disposed around the different spaces of the premises, which housed his residence, his business, and other households, gives some sense of the complexity and struggle at a daily level behind Tallis’s apparently orderly professional and commercial facades. This indicates that we can usefully look more generally to material culture – whether in textual and visual representations or as actual artefacts – to provide a deeper understanding of people’s everyday life in a developing city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-338
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Victorian Culture
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • material culture; inventories; 19th-century spaces of home and work; professional exigencies; London; 19th-century dentistry

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