Victorian London…Or unsubstantiated science with a side of child prostitution


Lee Jackson’s Victorian London Dictionary  sent me off on quite an interesting tangent. First, I investigated the science/technology heading and recalled the pseudoscientific Victorian pursuit called phrenology, which I found there. Aside from jostling my memory regarding the specifics of phrenology, the abundance of information online, both dismissing and supportive, was quite surprising. Of course, racism and European superiority were the prevailing views of the time, which allowed phrenology to flourish in Victorian London.

Here is a short video detailing the basics of phrenology for anyone who is not acquainted.

More simply, here is a drawing designed to help the unmarried ladies in the house…


After checking out the science area of Jackson’s Dictionary, I made my way to the sex heading, clicking on children as victims. I had a bad feeling about what I would discover, and my intuition was correct.

In an anonymous letter to a newspaper, a man recalled “a child of tender years”, who was addressed “by an old man dressed in the garb of a gentleman.” The young girl was likely a prostitute, and the author of the letter found a policeman, but he was no help. “The man behaved with exceeding propriety, and appeared to be quite alive to the grossness of the affair, but he (the policeman) said he had no right to interfere.” There were no laws protecting children such as the one detailed in the letter, and economic difficulty led to this being a regular occurrence on the streets of London.

The bustling city of London during this period was full of peril, as another entry under the “children as victims” heading detailed an 11 year-old girl chased by a man of about 50. “He overtakes her, stops her way, takes hold of her dress, and endeavors to force her into some den of infamy.”

While some people may think that the attitudes reflected by Victorian London are gone and forgotten, it was not until 2000 that children caught up in prostitution were thought of as victims in England. I found a terrific article from the Guardian which elucidates the plight of this rarely thought of segment of the population.

Finally, Archer stopped by to remind all of the Bob’s Burgers fans that spies are way cooler than cooks.



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