Holywell Street (London)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Holywell Street was a former street in London, now subsumed by The Strand. A lower grade of publishing was promoted at the east end of Strand where Holywell Street was the hub of Victorian pornography trade, until the street was physically eliminated by the Strand road widening in 1900. After passing the 1857 Act John Campbell informed his diary that half of the Holywell Street shops had closed down and the other half were stocking only respectable wares." (Pease).

The street also housed the offices of The Oracle of Reason and those of William Dugdale.


"Strange and Vickers had been associated with cheap literature all their lives, the fathers of both young publishers were among the radical unstamped pressmen of the 1830's and were acquaintances and neighbours of Holywell Street pornographer William Dugdale, a Regency veteran. Strange Sr. had published an unstamped newspaper, Truth, and an obscene and Anti-Papist work, The Confessional Unmasked. Vickers Sr. was responsible for the racy James Lindridge romance, The Merry Wives of London a Romance of Metropolitan Life."[1]

“We have in this country a free press, and, as the price of that incalculable boon we must be content to take the attendant evils. When, however, the liberty is so abused that common decency is infringed upon, and public morality gradually undermined, the law, especially as amended by Lord Campbell’s recent act, will interfere. It has done so just lately, and several of the Holywell Street shops were unceremoniously entered by the police, and large quantities of abominable books confiscated and burnt by order of the magistrates; but it is only in such flagrant cases as these that the law can interpose. The real remedy lies in the power of public opinion, in the enlightenment of the masses, and in the gradual improvement of popular taste.”[2]

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Holywell Street (London)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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