More London Books…

London, Reading & Writing


Jason Hawke’s stunning photographs above London continue to sell, while ‘Vanishing London: The places, the people, the stories’ is a lovely looking volume of photographs and tales from the recent past.’STORIES’ is a volume about the history of King’s Cross from Boudicca to Blur, lavishly illustrated, as they say, and ‘Panoramas of Lost London’ is probably the most full-scale exploration of the city in old photographs ever undertaken.

Let’s not venture into the world of London cookery, with literally hundreds of recent volumes – it seems you can’t open a restaurant without churning out a cookbook, few of which are more ridiculous and impractical (though attractive) as the LEON volume. Meanwhile, I’ve stumbled across two wonderful old volumes;
‘London Is London’ is a collection of prose and verse by DM Low published in 1949, and here I found the full poem from John Davidson that I once quoted in a novel (I forget which one). The final verse is;

A rumour broke through the thin smoke
Enwreathing abbey, tower and palace,
The parks, the squares, the thoroughfares,
The million-peopled lanes and alleys,
An ever-muttering prisoned storm,
The heart of London beating warm.

And ‘The Spirit Of London’ by Paul Cohen-Portheim, published in 1935 is delightful. Here he is on art;
‘Do whatever you like except one thing. Don’t try to ‘see the British Museum’. The National Gallery is quite admirable in its way, and it may seem a simpler proposition as it limits itself to pictures. But this again is deceptive, for if you are going to enjoy yourself you must not mix Holbein and Titian, Rembrandt and Claude Lorrain, for such mixtures are indigestible and the cocktail idea is inappropriate in art.’

Be warned, London book collecting leads to an empty wallet!

2 comments on “More London Books…”

  1. GB Steve says:

    Have you heard of the Book of the Smoke published (although possibly not) in about 1934?

  2. Alan G says:

    London books… grr.

    A couple Christmases ago I gave my Dad a book on strange parts of London (and for the life of me I can’t remember which) only to find that he’d given the same title to my brother.

    Fortunately my brother gave me a biography of Bruce Chatwin – so that was alright.

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