Thomson's most famous book was 'Street Life in London' of 1877. It was an attempt to account for the hard lives of the labourers in the city. Here Hookey Alf waits outside a Whitechapel pub in the hope of attracting work from passing coal merchants. The accompanying text written by the journalist, Adolphe Smith, provided a sympathetic account of Hookey Alf's circumstances. Its aim was to challenge contemporary attitudes towards working class people and encourage social reform.