Koon, Noah Andrew
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A combination of street-musicians, balladeers, hawkers and industrial workshops sometimes made life in Victorian London unbearable. Many notable artists and writers expressed their distaste for the noises of the streets in their diaries, books, and art; claiming that it impeded their work and endangered the health of those whose illnesses were treated at home. Others defended street musicians and the like as a cheap and delightful source of entertainment and work for the poor. Many historians have chosen to reflect on this subject with its climax being the 1864 passing of the Metropolitan Police Act. However, the post-1864 debate reveals a larger class conflict and a convergence of authority directed at shaping lower class behavior and order. An analysis of the post-1864 life of the street musician offers a great deal of insight into changing social relations and power structures in the late Victorian era as well as insight into Victorian perceptions of ownership, privacy, immigration and taste.