Mapping the Metropolis through Streetwalking in
Parker’s The Young Ladies of London
Lieutenant Parker’s penny dreadful The Young Ladies of London, or, The Mysteries of Midnight (1864) considers the mobility and agency of the sex worker in the city. Mimicking the style of popular night guides aimed at men-about-town, Parker gives increased authority and credibility to the sex workers who are able to navigate the city with purpose and pragmatism, and can traverse into exclusive urban haunts. While the presence of a nineteenth-century female flâneur or flâneuse has been contested by scholars, the sex workers in Parker’s text bear the traits of Baudelaire’s flâneur: they are often on the fringes of society and are part of the social milieu whilst paradoxically being isolated from city life due to their alleged deviant profession. In enacting the role of the guide, the women achieve increased mobility and freedom, whilst, conversely, their male clients become stagnant, unable to move in a city which has gradually become alienating and unfamiliar. Ultimately, I explore how these women are empowered through their knowledge of the city which enables them to evade the surveillance of their oppressors and carve out a new space for themselves in the metropolis.
Penny dreadful; periodical; popular fiction; prostitution/sex work; flâneur; flâneuse; Baudelaire; guide.
Date of Acceptance: 23 December 2019
Date of Publication: 31 December 2019
Double Blind Peer Reviewed
Raine, Sophie. 2019. “Mapping the Metropolis through Streetwalking in Parker’s The Young Ladies of London.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 1.2: 91-99. ISSN: 2632-4253. https://victorianpopularfiction.org/publications/1200-2/victorian-popular-fictions-volume-1-issue-2-autumn-2019/victorian-popular-fictions-journal-1-2-article-6/
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