London Lights, by James Hamilton
Londonist, as you know, can be as erudite as the next person when it suits, and so it has given us great pleasure in the last week to wade through James Hamilton’s splendid new oeuvre, LONDON LIGHTS.
This book is a great little number for anyone who is suffering from urban angst, or who has forgotten why they love London so. It perfectly encapsulates one of the most industrious and creative periods in the city’s history – 1805 to 1851 – by looking at the figures from all disciplines and walks of life who took such great strides forwards during that time – Babbage, Keats, Faraday, Nash to name but four from a cast of hundreds. It is effectively the biography of half a century, a collection of warm and credible anecdotes, which pasted together make not only a great read, but also a vivid account of why not only London but Britain as a whole was once top dog. It is appropriately billed as the tale of ‘the Minds that moved the City that Shook the World’.
Londonist was particularly amazed at how all these eccentric (but largely likeable) movers and shakers connected, at dinners and lectures and through unlikely collaboration in what would now be seen as quite different disciplines. What spiffing japes they all had together.
Anyway – highly recommended. Go buy (or borrow) a copy today. And be wary of this Londonist at the next pub quiz, as her history ain’t half bad after reading this.