Sandwich-Men by L. Raven-Hill


Leonard Raven-Hill


Walter Besant's East London (1901), facing p. 244.

Henry Mayhew placed "boardmen" among the lowest division of "street-folk," along with bill-stickers and so forth (13), and Leonard Raven-Hill has captured the sheer monotony of their lives by showing a whole line of them traipsing along in the gutter on a rainy day, all sporting the same ironic message on the front of their contraptions: "DON'T LOOK AT MY BACK." On the smaller board above their heads, suggestive at once of their burden and their role, is written "WHAT'S ON."

Such work "can generally be found at a shilling or one shilling and twopence a day," says Walter Besant (243), explaining that it was undertaken both by older men good for nothing else, but still fit enough to walk the streets all day long, and younger ones temporarily down on their luck. [Commentary continues below.]

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