BU Professor Pens New Book on the Poor

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BRANDON, MB – A history professor at Brandon University has written a compelling vision of the poor in London in the 19th century, when that city had the largest urban population in the world.

Dr. Lynn MacKay, BU History professor (web)“We know all about the wealthy,” says Dr. Lynn MacKay, “because they have written their history. My book tells the stories of the poor – their lives, behaviours and aspirations.”

Respectability and the London Poor 1780-1870 examines the culture of the poor during the Industrial Revolution and how the poor were affected by changes to housing, transportation and social nets, and a lack of consistent, decent-paying employment.

Dr. MacKay, researching and writing in London, uncovered fascinating stories about people in the days of workhouses, when 8 of every 10 residents were considered poor; the cobblestone streets reeking from garbage and sewage, clogged with a free-for-all of people, horses, carts and vendors; the poor, living in close proximity to the wealthy, hidden away in back alleys and congested courtyards.

“The criticism of the poor, then and now, is that they are unmotivated,” says Dr. MacKay. “This book creates context, examining the root causes contributing to the culture of poverty. I hope in reading it, people become a little more thoughtful about the poor today.”

Respectability and the London Poor 1780-1870, released in Britain in April and in North America July 30th, is available through online booksellers including Amazon.com.


For more information, please contact:
Dr. Lynn MacKay
Chair, History Department
Glen Kirby
Communications Officer


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