Landlordism and Changing Property Relations

  • David McCrone
  • Brian Elliott
Part of the Edinburgh Studies in Culture and Society book series (ESCS)


Andrew Mearns’s famous pamphlet, The Bitter Cry of Outcast London, published in 1883, is perhaps the best-known indictment of the Victorian landlord in England. It was an indictment that received wide publicity thanks to the efforts of the journalist, W.T. Stead, who gave it extensive coverage in the pages of The Pall Mall Gazette, but even before its publication, concern about the conditions of life in the slums had been growing among sections of the middle class. Some were moved by simple humanitarian concern for the sufferings of the poor, but many, as Stedman Jones has argued, were prompted by fear of the ‘residuum’. Either way, during the 1880s many crusading clergymen, philanthropists and government officials came to explore and document the state of housing in the great cities. From their accounts the urban landlord emerged as, typically, an unscrupulous rogue. Among the more sophisticated analyses of the economic forces and interests that gave rise to the appalling housing in British cities, Henry George’s Progress and Poverty (1881) stands out, and both his theorising about rent and his policy proposals received a good deal of attention. Some writers drew distinctions between the owners of land and housing and those responsible for the construction of poor, cramped, badly-built housing, and those who on a day-to-day basis leased the properties and collected the rents.


Housing Market Royal Commission Social Revolution Work Class Family Private Rental Sector 
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Copyright information

© David McCrone and Brian Elliott 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • David McCrone
    • 1
  • Brian Elliott
    • 2
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK
  2. 2.University of BritishColumbiaCanada

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