Romantic London is a research project exploring life and culture in London around the turn of the nineteenth century using Richard Horwood’s pioneering PLAN of the Cities of LONDON and WESTMINSTER the Borough of SOUTHWARK, and PARTS adjoining Shewing every HOUSE (published between 1792 and 1799).
The site is based around two digital version of Horwood’s Plan: the original version and William Faden’s 1819 fourth edition (which shows the considerable changes that occurred in the early nineteenth century). Both of these are laid over modern maps of the city, allowing for detailed examinations and comparisons.
As well as considering the Plan and its creator, the site uses Horwood’s work as a means of thinking about how writers, publishers and artists chose to represent London’s general character and particularities. By juxtaposing other contemporary sources with Horwood’s Plan using annotated markers, the site reflects upon the social, geographical and aesthetic assumptions made in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century attempts to systematise the burgeoning metropolis.
Texts brought into conversation with Horwood’s Plan at present include:
- Entries from the dual-language New Guide for Foreigners prepared around 1789 and sold by the printseller S.W. Fores from his shop opposite the Paris Diligence office.
- Descriptions and images from Modern London, an 1804 publication put together by the radical publisher Richard Phillips, which included two sets of plates of the city, one showing major landmarks, the other showing itinerant traders hawking their wares in more out-of-the-way locations.
- The lavish aquatints from Rudolf Ackermann’s Microcosm of London (1808-10), engraved from collaborations between the artist and architectural draftsman Auguste Charles Pugin and the uproarious caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson.
- The text of the 1788 edition of Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies, a disreputable register of London prostitutes.
Further details regarding the Plan and the other works juxtaposed with it can be accessed using the menus at the top of the page. Alternatively, you can dive in and look at all the markers at once using this page.
A fuller explanation of the project’s objectives and outcomes can be found on the About page. You can follow the changes and developments on the site’s blog. I’d be very grateful for any feedback about potential future directions and improvements – I can be reached most easily via email.