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The 1820s saw new public concern, management regimes, and legislation designed to define, control, and reduce ‘vagrancy’. This paper considers the emergence of the Society for the Suppression of Mendicity in London in 1818, led by William Henry Bodkin, and literary and visual responses to the drive against begging and rough sleeping that it spearheaded. Charles Lamb and Thomas Hood, friends and colleagues at the London Magazine, both opposed Bodkin’s new regime. I will look afresh at the various ways in which their work enters the culture wars of the 1820s, embracing vagrancy through form, theme, and trope, and offering a dynamic vision of the city as a place of displacement, where the subject is a collection of objects-in-waiting.

Sara Lodge is Senior Lecturer and Director of Research in the School of English at the University of St Andrews. She received her BA from Cambridge and her DPhil from Oxford University, where she was a lecturer before moving to St Andrews in 2002. She is the author of three books and over forty articles and chapters on nineteenth-century literature. She also makes radio programmes on nineteenth-century topics, most recently an award-winning documentary for Lyric FM about Edward Lear in Ireland and another about Rosa Mulholland and the Irish ghost story that will be broadcast in 2025. Her latest book, The Mysterious Case of the Victorian Female Detective will be published by Yale University Press in September 2024. She has a long-standing interest in the 1820s, having published her PhD thesis on Thomas Hood and gone on to write about Charles Lamb, John Clare and other members of the London Magazine circle. She is editing an essay collection on The 1820s in Cambridge University Press’s Literature in Transition series.

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