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Peripheral Visions: alternative aspects and rural presences in mid-eighteenth-century London

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This essay moves beyond the traditional concentration on the formation of polite identities in the classical townscape of the West End to offer an alternative vision of London constituted of multiple, distinct environments. Using the examples of the spa resorts at Hampstead and Islington, it argues that we need to extend our notion of the ‘urban’ in this period to include these semi-rural locations. Through an analysis of textual and visual sources it presents the city as a complex and heterogenous landscape incorporating an ‘edge’ in which cosy suburban villages and farms were intermixed with industrial enterprises, shanty settlements and out-of-town leisure developments. Far from being marginal the periphery played a significant role in town life, and London in this period can be seen as the prototype of the fractured modern connurbation.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Birkbeck College, London

Publication date: 1999-11-01

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