George Sims was born in 1847, the son of a successful businessman and the grandson of the Chartist leader, John Dinmore Stevenson. He started work as a journalist by writing theatre reviews and became a successful playwright himself.

The radical political views he had inherited from his grandfather, prompted him to write poems on social issues and to give lectures on social reform. He was approached by Arthur Moss, a School Board officer for Southwark, who told him about the conditions of the working classes in London and took him on a tour of the area. Shocked by what he saw, Sims began to write articles on their living conditions in The Pictorial World, the Daily News, and other newspapers. Many of these were later published in book form.

He died in 1922.

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