Although The Circumlocution Office website was primarily set up to highlight the life and works of Charles Dickens, we have included the works of some other contemporary authors who, like Dickens, provided some interesting journalistic writings about life in the nineteenth-century. One such is James Ewing Ritchie whose 1857 collected work The Night Side of London is reproduced on our site. The book gives a series of interesting sketches of the London metropolis at night.
James Ewing Ritchie (1820 – 1898) was an English journalist and writer. He was born on 1 May 1820 at Wrentham in Suffolk, England, the son of an Independent minister, Reverend Andrew Ritchie. Ritchie was initially educated at the nonconformist religious school, Coward College in London with a view to training for the ministry, but abandoned this to start a career in journalism. This included writing parliamentary sketches for the Weekly News, editing the Standard of Freedom, and contributing articles and sketches to the Daily News. He took over the Illustrated News of the World, and ran it for two years, until it ceased to exist and pushed Ritchie into bankruptcy in 1863. He brought out many books, such as The Night Side of London (1857), a series of sketches of the metropolis, and East Anglia (1893), a work largely made of personal reminiscences of the area.
In the latter decades of his life, his work chiefly appeared in the Christian World, under the pen-name of ‘Christopher Crayon‘. Ritchie lived for much of his life in the north London suburb of Hendon, naming his house after the village of his birth. In the last decade of his life, Ritchie returned to East Anglia, living in Clacton, Essex where he died on 24 July 1898.