The author believes that Sims's writings and lectures did as much as the work of Charles and William Booth in laying the foundations of the movement to introduce government directed social welfare in the late 19th century, and beyond. Indeed, Beryl Bainbridge, in her Preface, argues that Sims did more to highlight the plight of the poor in Victorian London than Charles Dickens.
Yet Sims was also a robust, controversial and thoroughly engaging individual. He even wrote the now somewhat forgotten monologue, Christmas Day in the Workhouse, and Beryl Bainbridge's splendid Preface ends with remembering her annual recitation of the famous work.
From Beryl Bainbridge's Preface:
"The chronicler of Sims' life and career, William Fishman, is a masterly recorder of nineteenth century social history, and a true writer. In his hands Sims becomes far more than a bland character devoted to good works, indeed is revealed as an enthusiastic gambler, a frequenter of clubs, a lover of the theatre, a successful playwright and something of a drinker... Aspects of what he recorded are as relevant today as they were then..."
William (Bill) Fishman is the chronicler of London's East End. His other books include East End 1888, The Streets of East London and East End Jewish Radicals 1875-1914. The author is a visiting professor at Queen Mary College, University of London and former visiting professor at Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin. Now retired, he regularly leads East End walks and lectures in social history.