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  • Writer's pictureRobert Martel

SLUM children

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Back in April I stumbled across an article at the Ultimate History Project website titled "Baby Farmers and Angelmakers: Childcare in 19th century England." It was a disturbing account of the terrible mistreatment of children under paid fosterage in Victorian England. The article included a photo labeled "Slum children in London, c. 1880" and it prompted me to execute a very quick sketch of what is perhaps two siblings huddle close together (sketch below):

Slum Children in London: marker sketch
Slum Children in London: marker sketch

The experience of sketching that photo of those children prompted me to to do some Google searches for other photographs of London slum children. Those searches led me to the work of Horace Warner and his photographic record of what has been since called affectionately the "Spitalfields Nippers" of London's East End. The photos were taken sometime between 1901-1912 and a broad selection of heartbreaking images with an informative write-up can be found at

One of Horace Warner's photos that touched me was of a lovely young girl with the following caption: "A girl wears a fine dress from an earlier era, probably obtained at the nearby Houndsditch rag market"

Drawn to the photograph I produced the quick sketch below:

A Girl Wears a Fine Dress: marker sketch
A Girl Wears a Fine Dress: marker sketch

I encourage you to visit the links posted above and I'm sure you will agree that Horace Warner's photographs "granted his subjects the dignity of self-possession and so they present themselves to his lens on their own terms."

#marker #sketch #children #slum #HoraceWarner #London

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