London in 1900 was the greatest city on earth-the capital of an empire on which the sun never set. This book is the first to examine this powerful and influential city at the turn of the century and to investigate its relationship with Britain's far-flung empire.
Jonathan Schneer focuses on the diverse, contentious, contradictory personalities of London and its inhabitants, showing the many ways that the empire impinged on them. He describes how a range of citizens-from architects to zoologists, from financiers to striking dockers-helped to define and shape the imperial metropolis. He also shows how the city was influenced by people other than native-born male Anglo-Saxons. Schneer traces the attempts of some of these overlooked peoples to delineate its boundaries: four extraordinary women-two political hostesses, a journalist, and an explorer-ethnologist-as well as anti-imperialist Irish, South Asians, West Indians, and Africans living in London at this time. In a concluding chapter, Schneer examines the general election of 1900 in London, in which the ruling Conservative government successfully defended its imperialist policies. The people of London, says Schneer, made their city and continually remade and reshaped it-as they continue to do today.