by Barbara Black
The Ohio State University Press, 2019
Cloth: 978-0-8142-1417-6 | eISBN: 978-0-8142-7748-5 | Paper: 978-0-8142-5561-2
Library of Congress Classification TX910.L66B62 2019

Hotel London: How Victorian Commercial Hospitality Shaped a Nation and Its Stories examines Victorian London’s grand hotels as both an institution and a culture intimately connected to the urban landscape. In her new study, Barbara Black argues that London’s grand hotels provided an essential space for socializing, fashioned by concerns relating to class, gender, and nationality. Rooted in Walter Benjamin’s “new velocities” of the nineteenth century and Wayne Koestenbaum’s hotel theory, Hotel London explores how the emergence of the grand hotel as a physical and metaphorical space helped to construct a consumer economy that underscored London’s internationalism and, by extension, England’s global status.

Incorporating the works of Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Wilkie Collins, Arnold Bennett, Florence Marryat, and Marie Belloc Lowndes, as well as contemporary depictions of the hotels in Mad Men,American Horror Story, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Black examines how the hotel supported a corporate identity that would ultimately assist in the rise of modern capitalist structures and the middle class. In this way, Hotel London exposes the aggravations of class stratifications through the operations of status inside hotel life, giving a unique perspective on Victorian London that could only come from the stories of a hotel.

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