Topographies of Literature & Culture in Eighteenth-Century London

The Grub Street Project is a digital edition of eighteenth-century London. By mapping its print culture, literature, and trades, it aims to create both a historically accurate visualization of the city's commerce and communications, and a record of how its authors and artists portrayed it.

Grub Street (now Milton Street) was both a real place and an abstract idea. For authors such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, it represented base commercialization, hack writing, and the prostitution of literary ideals. Its historical record, however obscure, presents a more complex scene, and one that is difficult to trace. Where, exactly, was "over against the lower Pump in Grub-street" (where one might find the printer John Clowes) or "in Grub-street neer the upper pump" (Bernard Alsop) or "near the Upper-Pump in Grubstreet" (Elizabeth Alsop)? What is left to us are the traces of this topography in maps (Strype, Rocque), in texts (The Dunciad Variorum), and in images (Bridewell, 1720).

Both location and metaphor, this now-vanished street represents what is largely invisible to us now, the print culture of eighteenth-century London (both high and low), and the construction of eighteenth-century London as a network of textual representations. The Grub Street Project examines new possibilities that digital mapping provides to better understand the city as topography and as social text, and print culture as a distributed social network.

Grub Street

The Grub Street Myth by Pat Rogers (June 2023).

Maps and Views of London

Maps and views of London through the long eighteenth century, mostly 1660–1830, are works in progress, with links from the database of Places and from Editions and Texts of works that were published and sold in London during the long eighteenth century. The map with the most content is currently Strype's 1720 Plan of the City of London, Westminster, and Southwark. Click on "Layers" to find streets and buildings on the map (they're not all there yet!)

Texts and Editions

A few examples of digital editions and texts of books sold/published in London 1660-1830 are available:

Four editions are in progress (please note that they are not fully copyedited, nor are they annotated as of yet):