I've been to London, but oh how I want to go back! It's a city steeped in history, in drama. I swear excitement lives in the very air. Maybe it's because I’m walking down the streets my characters walked, seeing sights that existed before they were even born. Despite all my critique partners admonitions not to look like a tourist for safety's sake, I gawk and cry out and point to things with giddy delight. Nineteenth century lads and lasses were no different.
Touring London was a common practice in the early nineteenth century, even if you weren't a young miss on your first Season. People from the country came up to the great metropolis to take in the culture, the politics. And what better way to tour a city than to follow the advice of a reputable guide?
Samuel Leigh was a bookseller and publisher who specialized in travel guides. He claimed to have written his New Picture of London because so many other travel guides were not updated regularly and ended up leading the tourist places that, at best, no longer existed and at worst might be downright dangerous to visit. The book lays out the social and political history of the city and then goes on to list everything from public buildings to churches and colleges and even tea houses of merit. One chapter offers a plan for visiting London in eight days.
But Leigh wasn't the only one determined to educate London tourists. An anonymous gentleman “who has made the police of the metropolis an object of enquiry twenty-two years” wrote The London Guide and Stranger's Safeguard against the Cheats, Swindlers, and Pickpockets. The book enumerates the many ways criminals can accost you in London, from pickpockets on the streets to robbers at the inn and informers looking to make a buck off your supposed immoral acts.
Armed with these two books, how could any tourist go wrong?