Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Armchair Traveller? 8 Books About.... LONDON...

There's an armchair traveller in all of us, even those who do plenty of the real thing.

So inspired by my co-BLM author's recent trip to Paris, (to soon be documented right here...) I thought I'd put together a list of a few titles which feature my particular favourite world city, Old London Town!

1: LONDON by Edward Rutherfurd
Of course one of my favourite books, by one of my favourite authors, so no surprise to see this gem on the top of the pile. Not only a series of great interconnected stories but a lovely potted history of the great city too. Rutherford has done his magic on a number of world cities but this is, for me, the best.

2: LONDON The Wicked City by Fergus Linnane
Giving us a glimpse through a thousand years of vice in England's capital, this is the tourist's guide to all things debauched, be they Roman legionaries, medieval traders, 18th century rakes or Victorian hypocrites, sex and the city have always gone hand in hand, sometimes open, sometimes hidden, always available!

3: LONDON The Biography by Peter Ackroyd
If London could choose it's biographer then Peter Ackroyd would perhaps be the best choice. From the time of Caesar to the present, he takes his reader through a chronology of her life. Thames-like in breadth and import to the great city, the book meanders on with the irresistible purpose of it's lifeblood river. My favourite London history by a city mile.

4: CITY OF CITIES The Birth Of Modern London by Stephen Inwood
Focusing on the late Victorian period to the pre-Great War years, this book demonstrates the way London coped with a unique period of population explosion and technological development that shaped much of the way we experience life in modern cities today. Mass transportation, mass production and mass marketing, changing London and the world, forever.

5: LONDINIUM London In The Roman Empire by John Morris
Like Rome, London really began with a bridge. Positioned at the lowest crossing place on the Thames, the Romans created a centre of government that, over time grew to be one of Rome's most prosperous regional capitals, but it was to ultimately be abandoned by the mother that gave birth to it, left to fend for itself in a world gone dark.

6: LONDON A Life In Maps by Peter Whitfield
This beautiful British Library publication serves a dual purpose, being both an excellent book in it's own right, but also being a very useful accompaniement to reading other books about London. Surprisingly to our modern sensibilities, nobody thought to map London until 500 years ago! For 1500 years I guess one used local knowledge and good luck to get around! 

7: BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY London Entertained 1830-1950 by Gavin Weightman 
One of the great things about London books is there are always a wealth of titles that deal with very specific, sometimes quirky bits of the city's life. This is one of them. A history of popular entertainment from stage and screen, this is a delightfully English, delightfully London piece of entertainment in itself.

8: LONDON The Illustrated History by Cathy Ross & John Clark
Produced by The Museum of London, this is a great concise presentation of the history of the English capital, wonderfully illustrated with both maps and images. If you can't get to the Museum of London, which you should try to do, this book will serve as an excellent substitute.