Dickens, Household Words, and the Smithfield Controversy at the Time of the Great Exhibition

  • Ronald D. MorrisonEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


This chapter focuses on a series of articles from early volumes of Household Words that advocate for the relocation of London’s famous Smithfield Market. Articles written by Dickens and several other writers reveal that the humane treatment of animals had become an increasingly mainstream concern by the 1850s. These articles frequently utilize common elements of humane ideology articulated by Harriet Ritvo: the policing of the lives of the poor, the enforcement of middle-class values, and the utilization of symbolic values of animals to promote a sense of British superiority over imperial rivals. But these articles also challenge key elements of humane ideology in describing the threats of international competition and fears of degeneration as the Great Exhibition was set to open.


Beef Dickens, Charles Great Exhibition Horne, Richard Household Words Humane treatment of animals Imperialism London RSPCA Slaughterhouse Smithfield Market Wills, W. H 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English DepartmentMorehead State UniversityMoreheadUSA

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