City of beasts

How animals shaped Georgian London

By Thomas Almeroth-Williams

City of beasts


  • eBook
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2635-1
  • Pages: 328
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: May 2019
  • BIC Category: London, Greater London, History, Urban farming / urban agriculture, London, Greater London, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Georgian era (1714–1837), Animals & society, NATURE / Animals / General, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Georgian Era (1714-1837), Humanities / Social & cultural history, Animals & Society
  • Series: Manchester University Press


This book explores the role of animals - horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and dogs - in shaping Georgian London. Moving away from the philosophical, fictional and humanitarian sources used by previous animal studies, it focuses on evidence of tangible, dung-bespattered interactions between real people and animals, drawn from legal, parish, commercial, newspaper and private records.This approach opens up new perspectives on unfamiliar or misunderstood metropolitan spaces, activities, social types, relationships and cultural developments. Ultimately, the book challenges traditional assumptions about the industrial, agricultural and consumer revolutions, as well as key aspects of the city's culture, social relations and physical development. It will be stimulating reading for students and professional scholars of urban, social, economic, agricultural, industrial, architectural and environmental history.


'Thomas Almeroth-Williams adds vibrant colour to the landscape of Georgian London through his cast of horses, jackasses, livestock and watchdogs large and small. Beautifully written, attentive and thoughtful, City of beasts is alive not only with the sights, sounds, smells of the eighteenth century metropolis, but also with its animal voices.'
Lucy Inglis, author of Milk of Paradise

'Animals made eighteenth-century London work. From guard dogs to drays, they provided the 'horse power' that made society turn. Almeroth-Williams interrogates a lost world of human-animal relations to expose something quite new. This book will change how you see the pre-industrial world and every mutt you meet on the street.'
Tim Hitchcock, Co-Director of The Old Bailey Online

'His close attention to the details of human and animal behaviours, his focus on the "dung-bespattered" reality of human-animal interactions, forces the reader to acknowledge animals ... as agents of historical change in their own right.'

'City of Beasts is an unusual, provocative urban history, which makes exciting methodological contributions and challenging arguments relevant to a range of subjects and disciplines.'
Urban History Journal

It is very well written and includes a wealth of stories that bring "dung-spattered" Georgian London to life. City of Beasts offers a new and compelling way to look at both urban and animal history in ways that intersect closely with environmental history.'
Environmental History journal


1 Mill horse
2 Draught horse
3 Animal husbandry
4 Meat on the hoof
5 Consuming horses
6 Horsing around
7 Watchdogs


Thomas Almeroth-Williams is Research Associate in the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York

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