Photographer Horace Warner took hundreds of pictures of street urchins in the East End neighborhood of Spitalfields in 1912. At the time, it was one of London's harshest slum areas, but has been gentrified in the past few decades. These photographs are a peek into the world that inspired Charles Dickens.
Little is known of Horace Warner and nothing is known of his relationship to the nippers. Only thirty of these pictures survive, out of two hundred and forty that he took, tantalising the viewer today as rare visions of the lost tribe of Spitalfields Nippers. They make look like paupers, and the original usage of them to accompany the annual reports of the charitable Bedford Institute, Quaker St, Spitalfields, may have been as illustrations of poverty – but that is not the sum total of these beguiling photographs, because they exist as spirited images of something much more subtle and compelling, the elusive drama of childhood itself.
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