"his London apartments"
Fleet Street, c.1890
Public DomainFleet Street, c.1890 - Credit: James Valentine

London, England’s capital and the seat of the British Empire, was the largest city in the world between 1831 and 1925. Attracting immigrants from the colonies and poorer areas of Europe, its population ballooned during the 19th century from 1 million at its inception to 6.7 million in its final years. This incredible growth was accompanied by problems of overcrowding, poor sanitation, disease, pollution and a marked divide between wealth and impoverishment. For this reason, the governess's interviewer believes the countryside a fitter place for bringing up children.

 

Bacon's Portable Map of London, c.1899
Public DomainBacon's Portable Map of London, c.1899 - Credit: Geographicus Rare Antique Maps

Rudyard Kipling’s In Partibus (1889) portrays the chaos and pollution of turn-of-the-century London. Read it here

Over London - By Rail (c.1870)
Public DomainOver London - By Rail (c.1870) - Credit: Gustave Doré