Victorian London - Directories - Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879 - "Books of Reference"

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Books of Reference.— The first and most universally useful of London hooks of reference is, of course, Messrs. Kelly’s “Post Office Directory.” In this gigantic annual, extending this year to 2,500 pages, will be found every kind of information as to the local habitation of Londoners of every class. Collingridge’s “City Directory” does the same service with regard to the more limited area with which it deals, giving at the same time a large amount of very interesting information with regard to other matters affecting the City and its Corporation. Webster’s “Royal Red Book “deals in similar fashion as does also the “Court Guide,” with the West-end of the town, and is a much more manageable volume in point of size; whilst Dean & Sons’ “Export Merchant Shippers of London, &c.,” gives in comparatively small compass a vast amount of information as to the commercial operations of the great metropolitan market. As a companion to the picture galleries of London nothing better could be desired than Miss Thompson’s compact little “Handbook to the Picture Galleries of Europe “(Macmillan & Co.), which gives catalogues of all the principal galleries, with critical notices both of paintings and masters. To those more particularly interested in the ecclesiological aspect of London may be recommended Mackeson’s “Guide to the London Churches and Chapels ;“ the Rev. J. H. Sperling’s” Church Walks in Middlesex’ (Masters); the very compact little “Tourist’s Church Guide” issued by the English Church Union, with detailed information as to every church where Holy Communion is celebrated weekly; and the (Roman) “Catholic Directory, Ecclesiastical Register, and Almanac” (Burns and Oates). Mitchell’s Newspaper Directory” gives a very comprehensive list of the newspapers daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, and others—not only of London, but of the entire kingdom, with particulars of their politics, circulation, &c., in the ispsissima verba of the several  proprietors. The same may be said an respect of the charities of the metropolis with regard to Mr. Herbert Fry’s admirable little work, the “Royal Guide to the London Charities,” wherein will be found at full length the nature and object of each institution dealt with, the names of its various officers, the mode in which application for assistance from it is to be made, the amount collected by it in the preceding year, and the purposes to which that amount has been applied. Of guide books proper we have the usual three—Murray, Black, and Baedeker—each in his own peculiar style doing for strangers in London the useful work he has so often done for Londoners elsewhere; whilst Messrs. Cook & Son provide their especial clientelle with a small paper-covered handbook of a very condensed and practical kind. Messrs. Nelson & Co., on the other hand, provide us with a number of little volumes of the descriptive and pictorial class, one devoted to lithographic illustrations of the principal places of interest at the West-end, with brief historical and descriptive paragraphs; another with effectively executed coloured illustrations of picturesque and interesting localities near London and so forth. Lieut-Col. Ivey’s “Club Directory” contains a good deal of information concerning, not only most of the London, but a large number of foreign and colonial clubs. Messrs. Taunt & Co. send us a capital little pocket guide to the Thames, containing inter alia a most useful table of distances measured (a) from Folly to Putney-bridge, (J) from Putney to Folly-bridge, and (c) from place to place along the route. Every place too has its concise but exhaustive paragraph with every information as to inns, fishing, fishermen, &c. and the book winds up with a short paper by the Editor on “camping out,” an experience which visitors to London may find for a time an agreeable change. “The Tourist’s Guide Round about London” (Edward Stanford, Charing Cross) deals generally with the historical, architectural, archaeological, and picturesque aspect of the environs within a circle of 12 miles. It does not, however, confine itself strictly within those limits, outlines of a few walking excursions being given to places such as Hatfield, Windsor, &c. The book is arranged, alphabetically, and divided into two sections; one dealing with the places within, the other with those beyond, the four mile circle. As might be anticipated, a prominent feature in the book is its map, which extends from Southall to Crayford, and from Potter’s Bar to Caterham Junction, and is one of the clearest we have ever seen, so clear that it might be used even for the streets of the town itself. Messrs. Bemrose and Sons send us a whole series of handbooks, one for each of the railways, and printed uniform with the time-books issued by the companies. They are compiled on the panoramic plan, each page being vertically bisected by a little  railway, with two little trains running, the one up to, the other down from, town, and with all the stations, tunnels, nver-crossings, &c., duly marked. On either side is a brief description of the various places lying on that side of the road, and the whole forms a handy companion on any of those country excursions which are probably never so thoroughly enjoyed as after a long spell of London.  

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879