I have recently read two seemingly similar histories of Georgian London/England- Amanda Vickery’s Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England and Lucy Inglis’ Georgian London: Into the Streets. It was actually quite interesting to read them one after the other, it allowed for some interesting comparisons.
Overall, I would say Georgian London was a more interesting read. Inglis is not a formally trained historian, and writes in a pop history, anyone-can-understand kind of way. It is a refreshing difference from most academic histories. She uses a wide variety of sources, and although there is no methodological discussion, it is easy to follow. Behind Closed Doors is much more academic- Vickery is a professor at Queen Mary, University of London, so this is not a shock. She uses mostly diaries and ledger books- I was disappointed in the lack of variety in her sources. She discusses architecture for quite a large chapter, for example, and uses far less architectural evidence than one would think.
I have two other major criticisms of Vickery- Behind Closed Doors only really examines the upper middle class and aristocracy. I know what you will say- the surviving sources are largely from these classes, the lower classes did not have family diaries, ledgers, account books, etc. However, Vickery does not even attempt to discuss this. If you aren’t going to try and broach all classes of England’s population, re-title your book and actually discuss that in your introduction or conclusion. The other has to do with her style- very academic and dry. It does not HAVE to be dry because it is academic, but Vickery has a lacking style. It is not engaging, and does not work at all to keep you interested. I had been looking forward to reading this book for literally years, and I was so excited when I found this at Kensington Palace, but it was only meh. I would give it 3/5 stars.
Georgian London was quite interesting and easy to read, but I found one aspect quite difficult. It is organised by area of the city- it makes it a touch confusing when she discusses someone as an entirely new person in each chapter, and it makes you doubt your memory. Her biography is also a little sparse. It isn’t surprising as a pop history book, but it would make it a little tough to use it for secondary research. I would give this book 4/5 stars.