London: A Biography
A masterpiece — the culmination and distillation of Peter Ackroyd’s lifelong passion for the history and topography of London. Vividly anecdotal and brilliantly original.
Perhaps the most important study of the city ever written, London confirms Ackroyd’s status as what one critic called, “our age’s greatest London imagination.” Much of Peter Ackroyd’s work has been concerned with the life and past of London, but this new book is his definitive account of the city. For Ackroyd’s London is a living organism, with its own laws of growth and change, so London is The Biography , as the book is subtitled, not a History. Here Ackroyd portrays London from the time of the Druids to the beginning of the twenty-first century, noting magnificence in each age. But this is not a simple chronological record.
He writes chapters on the history of silence, the history of light, the history of childhood, the history of Cockney speech, and the history of drink. He constructs a comprehensive, multilayered image of the place, animated by his concern for the close relationship between the present and the past, and the peculiar ‘echoic’ quality of London which actively affects the lives and personalities of its citizens.