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Publication: Street Life in London: Context and Commentary

This ground-breaking book by Kathryn Morgan examines the 1877-78 publication Street Life in London,by journalist Adolphe Smith and photographer John Thomson, which aimed to reveal, through the innovative use of photography and essays, the conditions of a life of poverty in London.

Now regarded as a pioneering photo-text and a foundational work of socially conscious photography – “one of the most significant and far-reaching photobooks in the medium’s history” (The Photobook: A History) – Street Life in London did not achieve commercial success in its own time. However, in Street Life in London we see the start, but not the conclusion, of a conversation between text and image in the service of education, reportage and social justice. This book is the first-ever in-depth analysis of the genesis, development and context of Smith and Thomson’s innovative publication. 

More information:

The author, Dr Emily Kathryn Morgan, is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at Iowa State University. 

Full details of this richly illustrated, 556-page, full-colour publication, sample pages and free worldwide shipping are available here:

This 556-page full-colour book, with 75 illustrations, includes the following chapters:

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Revisiting and Re-examining Street Life In London
  • John Thomson: Life and Writings
  • Adolphe Smith: Life and Writings
  • We Are Not The First On The Field
  • Making Street Life in London
  • True Types of the London Poor
  • Street Life in London as Photo-Text
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

“As sustained and ambitious as the primary source itself… This engaging, astute account makes [Street Life in London] available to numerous other fields of study: urban history, sociology, media studies, and more.”

Britt Salvesen, Curator, Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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