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Within the sound of Bow Bells
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 13:30 authored by John Gardner
What is a Cockney? To have been born within the sound of Bow Bells is the most well-known qualification required. However, as Gregory Dart shows in his fascinating new book, Cockneys are people ‘with attitude’, who might labour through the week in old clothes but ‘transform themselves into dandies’ at the weekend. Cockneys, as Dart shows, have also been thought of as vulgar parochial upstarts who like new furniture, organized gardens and posh tearooms. This book examines, in particular, an understudied period, from 1820 to 1840, that links Romantic and Victorian cultures and overlaps the individual spheres that they are often separately studied in. It is an affectionate, interesting and generative study of Cockneyism, and how it engages with, among other things, architecture, art, city planning, fashion, literature, politics and suburban gardens. Dart's achievement is that he extends debates on Cockneyism out of the tight timeframe of 1812–1820, that previous academic studies have largely held them in and, in doing so, expands the cultural spheres that Cockneys engaged with.
Publication titleJournal of Victorian Culture
PublisherTaylor & Francis