Spitalfields Nippers

Each of Horace Warner’s evocative photos of grubby east London children, taken early in the 20th century, tell us a fragment of a story, but leave us with so many questions. They look posed in working situations – washing laundry, caring for babies, splitting wood – but I have no doubt these kids did all of that and more to get what meagre food and shabby clothes they could manage. Some are saucy, sad, or forlorn, and some look like tough survivors, but unless some keen genealogist happens to recognize their kin, we will never know how they turned out.

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