More London Books
Because you can never have too many, can you? Recently I wrote the foreword for Antony Clayton’s excellent ‘Subterranean London’, and now I’m doing one for this enjoyable and well-informed book of walks following the paths of London’s lost rivers (not quite out yet).
You start researching on one area and pretty soon you’re knee-deep in London books once again. Why are there so many? Paris has an immense depth of history and a revolution, for God’s sake, but there are fewer French volumes. So here’s my round-up from the stranger reaches of my London library.
The Local and Back To The Local by Maurice Gorham & Edward Ardizzone
Yes, that Ardizzone, so there are lovely illustrations accompanying these boozy trawls through London pubs, first published in 1939 and 1949 respectively – and what a treasure trove of information for anyone writing period novels set in London. It’s amazing how many writers get their facts right and their social details wrong. The former has recently been reissued.
London On Film: 100 Years Of Filmmaking In London by Colin Sorensen
This is a photo-filled gem of a book that covers everything from the bonkers High Treason (1929) to The Elephant Man (1980) but the main emphasis is on early films.
Scene/ Unseen: London’s West End Theatres – English Heritage
Ever wondered about the parts of theatres you don’t see? This book takes you behind the scenes with an array of bewildering Heath Robinson contraptions and messy cubby-holes through to the Royal Opera House’s refit that turns its mechanics into a sterile computer zone.