Illustration of a ballad singer and fire men in the streets of London, from Rowlandson's characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders, 1820.

  • Intro
    Museum's Description
    Teacher notes
    • This little book, published in 1820, is filled with sketches of personalities from London's streets. It shows an honest image of the jobs and wares that were essential to life in 19th Century Britain.

      The book is made up almost entirely of illustrations, with very few words. As few people could read and write in 19th century Britain picture books like this were very popular.

      These two pages show a fireman with a horse and a female ballad singer. You can flick through the rest of the book and see the rest of the images on the British Library's website.

      Things to think about
      • Are these the kind of people you would have expected to see on 19th century London's streets?
      • Why do you think most people couldn't read?
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