A Literary Anthology

Edited by The British Library

Edited by The British Library

Distributed for British Library

224 pages | 20 color plates, 20 halftones | 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 9780712357401 Published December 2014 For sale in North and South America only
“There’s nowhere like London really you know,” says Ginger in Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies. From the innumerable books written about London or set in the city, it would seem countless other writers agree. This anthology features a broad collection of poems and scenes from novels that stretch from the fifteenth century to the present day. They range from Daniel Defoe extolling it as “the greatest, the finest, the richest city in the world,” and Rudyard Kipling declaring impatiently, “I am sick of London town,” to William Makepeace Thackeray moving among “the very greatest circles of the London fashion,” and Charles Dickens venturing into an “infernal gulf.”
Illustrated with evocative prints, drawings, and full-color artwork from British Library collections, the book explores London as never before. They will experience London for the first time with Lord Byron’s Don Juan and James Berry in his Caribbean gear “beginning in the city.” They will plunge into the multiracial whirlpool described in William Wordsworth’s Prelude, Hanif Kureishi’s The Black Album, and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and see the ever-changing city through the eyes of Tobias Smollett, John Galsworthy, and Angela Carter. From well-known texts to others that are less familiar, London: A Literary Anthology brings London to life through the words of many of the greatest writers in the English language.
Authors featured: Peter Ackroyd, Matthew Arnold, Arnold Bennett, E. F. Benson, James Berry, Laurence Binyon, William Blake, James Boswell, James Bramston, Robert Bridges, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Buchan, Lord Byron, Angela Carter, G. K. Chesterton, Joseph Conrad, Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, Alfred Douglas, Arthur Conan Doyle, John Dryden, William Dunbar, George Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, John Galsworthy, John Gay, George VI, George Gissing, W. S. Graham, Thomas Hardy, G. A. Henty, Robert Herrick, Henry James, Richard Jefferies, Ben Jonson, Rudyard Kipling, Hanif Kureishi, D. H. Lawrence, Doris Lessing, Penelope Lively, John Lydgate, Rose Macaulay, Colin MacInnes, Herman Melville, Arthur Morrison, Thomas Nashe, Mervyn Peake, Egan Pierce, Mary Robinson, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Samuel Selvon, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Zadie Smith, Tobias Smollett, Robert Southey, Edmund Spenser, Jonathan Swift, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, Hugh Walpole, Evelyn Waugh, H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, William Wordsworth, Israel Zangwill, and Benjamin Zephaniah
Washington Times
"The ever-sagacious Samuel Johnson famously remarked that those who were tired of London were tired of life. There’s an awful lot of life packed into the sampling of literary reflections of that city, which the editors of the British Library—that great depository of English manuscripts—have assembled in these pages. Whether a writer was a native of London, a visitor or one who adopted it as his hometown, it had an enormous effect. For so many writers over the centuries, London offered fodder for their work, whether as inspiration for all manner of subject matters and characters or merely as background. . . . London: A Literary Anthology indeed affirms Samuel Johnson’s dictum, for it shows not only a city with a lot of lives being lived but also a metropolis with a life of its own."
"Captures the city's candelit circles and foggy shadows. . . . Although the handsome cover and many familiar authors may tempt browsers to judge this compilation as a pleasant holiday gift or congenial night-table companion, the contents reveal a complex presentation. . . . The presentation of period illustrations and literary reflections, if attentively read, invites audiences to study dozens of reactions in pen and pastel to the domination of the City over one’s own mental landscape. For those who have visited or who live in London, it will remind them of why many want to return there, or why some never will."
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