A Chaos Of Wealth And Want

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Henry Mayhew dedicated his life to recording the testimony of the poor and dispossessed in 1850's London.

But he never offered them charity.

Until he met Mouse.

Henry Mayhew...

David Haig

Jane Mayhew - Alison Pettit

Jack - Steven Webb

Mouse - Sam Alexander

Sal - Joanna Monroe

Arthur - Sam Dale

With Keely Beresford, Michael Shelford, Vineeta Rishi

Written by Penny Gold

Director Jeremy Mortimer

The play focuses on an episode in the career of the great chronicler of London life and pioneer of oral history, Henry Mayhew.

In the 1850s, Mayhew spent his days gathering verbatim testimonies from the city's poor for his 'London Labour and the London Poor'.

No moralising do-gooder, he believed he could talk to such people on equal terms.

It took his challenging friendship with Jack, a sharp-witted teenage coster (market trader) and his over-trusting attempt to assist Mouse, a drunken child-runaway with a winning smile, to teach him where the borders lie.

At the heart of the story is Mayhew himself: a vigorous, humorous, volatile, improvident, totally engaging, totally exasperating man.

No wonder he sees similarities between himself and the street people he interviews; no wonder he drives his wife to distraction.

Broadcast as part of the Radio 4 season 'London: Another Country ?', this Afternoon Play is also scheduled alongside the Afternoon Feature series 'London Street Cries', which sets extracts from Henry Mayhew's 'London Labour and the London Poor' alongside newly recorded interviews.

By Penny Gold.

In 1850s London Henry Mayhew befriends a homeless young man.

Henry Mayhew dedicated his life to recording the testimony of the poor and dispossessed in 1850's London. But he never offered them charity. Until he met Mouse.

The play focuses on an episode in the career of the great chronicler of London life and pioneer of oral history, Henry Mayhew. In the 1850s, Mayhew spent his days gathering verbatim testimonies from the city's poor for his 'London Labour and the London Poor'. No moralising do-gooder, he believed he could talk to such people on equal terms. It took his challenging friendship with Jack, a sharp-witted teenage coster (market trader) and his over-trusting attempt to assist Mouse, a drunken child-runaway with a winning smile, to teach him where the borders lie.

At the heart of the story is Mayhew himself: a vigorous, humorous, volatile, improvident, totally engaging, totally exasperating man. No wonder he sees similarities between himself and the street people he interviews; no wonder he drives his wife to distraction.