Jack London’s in-depth exploration of the (shocking) living conditions in London’s East End: "The People of the Abyss" (1903)

(actualisé le ) by Jack London

In 1902 the 25-year-old Jack London, who was already a veteran of a year of vagrant "hobo" wanderings around the American continent when he was 17, of a year of sailing on a fishing boat in the Far Pacific when he was 18, and of a year in the Klondike gold-rush in Canada’s Far North when he was 21, found himself in London, where he had been sent by a Californian newspaper to cover the Boer war - which however had been concluded by the time he arrived there.

So instead of exploring the wilds of South Africa, he set out to explore the East End of London, site of the recent exploits of Jack the Ripper and reputedly unsafe to the extreme, where he proceeded to dress and behave and live and eat and sleep like the rest of the teeming millions cramped into that run-down, decaying, dirty and polluted home of the city’s poorest.

He brought back with him this moving, this shocking, this powerful denunciation of the quite inhuman living conditions tolerated in its centre by the biggest Empire the world had ever seen, at the height of its wealth and power.

Dorset Street, Spitalfields 'View in Wapping' On the docks Backyard blacksmith One of the monster doss-houses An East End interior Before Whitechapel Workhouse in Vallance rd Petticoat Market Men sleeping in Green Park Policeman and a sleeping man Hungry men waiting to be fed at the Salvation Army Sunday morning at the Salvation Army

see "The People of the Abyss" (1903).