The Ghost Map

William Farr Character Analysis

Influential demographer whose data concerning the outbreak of cholera in London in the 1840s and 1850s was crucial to the research of John Snow. Farr was a firm believer in the miasma theory of disease for most of his early career; however, after befriending John Snow, he became an important advocate for the modern contagion theory, and used his influence to defend public health.

William Farr Quotes in The Ghost Map

The The Ghost Map quotes below are all either spoken by William Farr or refer to William Farr. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of The Ghost Map published in 2007.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Cities are invariably shaped by their master planners and their public officials; Chadwick and Farr had a tremendous impact on Victorian London—most of it positive, despite the miasma diversions. But in the last instance, the energy and vitality and innovation of cities comes from the Henry Whiteheads—the connectors and entrepreneurs and public characters who make the urban engine work at the street level.

Related Characters: Henry Whitehead, Edwin Chadwick, William Farr
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

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William Farr Character Timeline in The Ghost Map

The timeline below shows where the character William Farr appears in The Ghost Map. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: The Investigator
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
...more popular with medical insiders, including the London sanitation commissioner and London’s chief demographer, William Farr. Few argued that cholera was spread by contaminated water. (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
...in Horsleydown; all the evidence pointed to the disease spreading aquatically. Snow also studied William Farr’s data and maps on the spread of cholera. He found that cholera deaths correlated closely... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
...John Snow was looking over the mortality numbers for the 1854 outbreak compiled by William Farr. Snow and Whitehead had one thing in common that evening: they were both sitting in... (full context)
Chapter 4: That Is To Say, Jo Has Not Yet Died
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
...conclusive evidence for the existence of a cholera bacterium, Snow collaborated with the demographer William Farr. Farr was a scientist, but he still clung to the miasma theory; he thought that... (full context)
Chapter 5: All Smell is Disease
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
...September 5 walking through Soho, searching for cholera patterns. He visited the Registrar-General’s Office, where Farr worked, and spoke with Farr about the latest body counts for the neighborhood. Snow wondered... (full context)
Chapter 6: Building the Case
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
After studying Farr’s latest figures, Snow came to realize that, while most of the cholera victims of 1854... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
...had built a strong case against the Broad Street pump: the vast majority of deaths Farr had recorded had occurred in houses for which the Broad Street pump was the nearest... (full context)
Chapter 8: Conclusion
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
The Scientific Process Theme Icon
...1866, London experienced its last great outbreak of cholera, largely in its East End. William Farr assembled the evidence and concluded that the vast majority of the victims had been customers... (full context)
Illness, Death, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Urban Growth and Planning Theme Icon
Class and Prejudice Theme Icon
...are to fight these problems, they’ll be dealing with ten times as many people as Farr or Chadwick had to deal with. (full context)