Tel 44 (0)20 7589 4325
Fax 44 (0)20 7589 4325
Email:[email protected]



Charles Booth: Descriptive Map of London Poverty 1889 [North-western sheet]

Map: LDN6689
Cartographer: Charles Booth
Title: Descriptive Map of London Poverty 1889 [North-western sheet]
Date: 1889
Published: London
Width: 24 inches / 61 cm
Height: 21 inches / 54 cm
Map ref: LDN6689
North-western section of Booth's seminal map of London showing the social and economic strata of the city, covering Paddington, Regent's Park, Westminster, Holborn, the Strand, Islington, Marylebone and King's Cross. Key included.

Charles Booth (30 March 1840 – 23 November 1916) was an English philanthropist and social researcher. He is most famed for his innovative work on documenting working class life in London at the end of the 19th century, work that along with that of Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree influenced government intervention against poverty in the early 20th century.

Booth was critical of the existing statistical data on poverty, by analysing census returns he argued that they were unsatisfactory and later sat on a committee in 1891 which suggested improvements which could be made to them. He publicly criticised the claims of the leader of the Social Democratic Federation H. M. Hyndman - leader of Britain's first socialist party. In the Pall Mall Gazette of 1885, Hyndman stated that 25% of Londoners lived in abject poverty. Booth investigated poverty in London, working with a team of investigators which included his cousin Beatrice Potter (Beatrice Webb) and the chapter on women's work was conducted by future economist, Clara Collet. This research, which looked at incidences of pauperism in the East End of London, showed that 35% were living in abject poverty - even higher than the original figure.

This work was published under the title Life and Labour of the People in 1889. A second volume, entitled Labour and Life of the People, covering the rest of London, appeared in 1891. Booth also popularised the idea of a 'poverty line', a concept originally employed by the London School Board. Booth set this line at 10 to 20 shillings, which he considered to be the minimum amount necessary for a family of 4 or 5 people.

After the first two volumes were published Booth expanded his research. This investigation was carried out by Booth himself and a team of researchers. However, Booth continued to operate his successful shipping business while the investigation was taking place. The fruit of this research was a second expanded edition of his original work, published as Life and Labour of the People in London in nine volumes between 1892 and 1897. A third edition (now expanded to seventeen volumes) appeared 1902-3.

The Poverty map is a powerful tool of targeting mechanisms. It provides a detailed description of the spatial distribution of poverty and inequality within a country. It combines individual and household (micro) survey data and population (macro) census data with the objective of estimating welfare indicators for a specific geographic area as small as village or hamlet. The Descriptive Map of London Poverty is perhaps the most distinctive product of Charles Booth's Inquiry into Life and Labour in London (1886-1903). An early example of social cartography, each street is coloured-coded to indicate the income and social class of its inhabitants.

Printed colour. Original linen backing. [LDN6689]