12 Days of Books – Georgian London

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One Sunday in the summer of 2009 I stood on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral and listened as the bells called to worshippers and tourists alike. People loitered chatting, or climbed the steps and went inside.  I imagined this clamour was almost exactly the same as it had been three centuries ago. I recorded it on my telephone and walked home.

For years I had dragged my husband to churchyards, houses, demolition sites, public monuments and hidden memorials, telling him the stories of people long dead: cabinet-makers, slaves, domestic servants, weavers, chimney-sweeps and prostitutes. Back at home I played him the recording, my precious moment of shared experience with Londoners of the past. His dry recommendation was to start blogging the tales I had accumulated and what I believed about Georgian London, perhaps hoping to deflect my endless enthusiasm onto the miasma of the world wide web. The blog gained instant traction as it explored relationships, crime, literature, disability, personal hygiene, jobs, sexuality, charity, sport and shopping. This book is sprung from its loins, a tribute to the people of the eighteenth century city and testimony to the eternal feeling that if I could just run fast enough through London’s endless archives I will catch them, grasp their coat tails and make them tell me everything about being a Georgian Londoner.

My lovely team at Penguin have run with me on this journey, and this is what they have to say about the book: ‘All aboard for a tour of London’s most formative age – the age of love, sex, intellect, art, great ambition and fantastic ruin. Travel back to the Georgian years, a time that changed life expectancy and the expectation of what life could be. Peek into the gilded drawing rooms of the aristocracy, walk down the quiet avenues of the new middle class, and crouch in the damp doorways of the poor. But watch your wallet – tourists make perfect prey for the thriving community of hawkers, prostitutes and scavengers. Visit, if you dare, the madhouses of Hackney, the workshops of Soho and the mean streets of St Giles’s. Have a coffee in the city, check the stock exchange, and pop into St Paul’s to see progress on the new dome. This book is about the Georgians who called London their home, from dukes and artists to rent boys and hot air balloonists meeting dog-nappers and life-models along the way. It investigates the legacies they left us in architecture and art, science and society, and shows the making of the capital millions know and love today’.

Georgian London isn’t out until later in 2013, but I am caught up in the excitement! We are finalising covers, pictures and publicity. Please do put your name down for a copy and when the books arrives, I very much hope you enjoy it.

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Lucy Inglis is a historian based in London. She lives within the sound of St Paul’s cathedral with her husband and a Border terrier.

Comments

  1. Linda Norris says

    I’ve just been in London last month, and this sounds like an amazing way to explore it further from my armchair. I would love a copy!

  2. Alexandra the Great says

    I’ve been watching the website for the last couple of years, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book! I love London, and the history of cities, and the stories of people who lived there – this sounds like my kind of book :)

  3. librarypat says

    This is my kind of book. I started reading historical fiction to get tidbits on daily life and events of the time period in which the book is set. Many authors research well and include good information in their stories making the time come alive. It gave live to history, something most history courses do not do. Instead of dry dates, people, and places, I got to know what it was like to live during a time period.

    Your book goes straight to what I want to know. The Who, How, Why, and What of a time in history. Not just the parties and romances of the aristocracy, but the daily lives of and influences on the people of all levels of society. I look forward to reading GEORGIAN LONDON and experiencing Georgian London as closely as I can.

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season and a great 2013.

  4. Lauren Micaela Petersen says

    I would absolutely LOVE to read this book. During my undergrad I focused my studies on British History, I even snuck off from my field school in Germany to explore the streets of London and imagine what life would have been like long ago.. such an amazing place!!

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