London Under

Paperback | May 7, 2012

byPeter Ackroyd

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From the author of the bestselling London: The Biography, a poetic and powerful urban history of life and legend beneath London.

This is a wonderful, atmospheric, historical, imaginative, oozing little study of verything that goes on under London, from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheatres to Victorian sewers and gang hide-outs. The depth below is hot, much warmer than the surface and this book tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures that dwell in darkness, real and fictional -- rats and eels, monsters and ghosts.

There is a bronze-age trackway under the Isle of Dogs, Wren found Anglo-Saxon graves under St Paul's, and the monastery of Whitefriars lies beneath Fleet Street. In Kensal Green cemetery there was a hydraulic device to lower bodies into the catacombs below -- "Welcome to the lower depths". A door in the plinth of statue of Boadicea on Westminster Bridge leads to a huge tunnel, packed with cables -- gas, water, telephone. When the Metropolitan Line was opened in 1864 the guards asked for permission to grow beards to protect themselves against the sulphurous fumes, and called their engines by the names of tyrants -- Czar, Kaiser, Mogul -- and even Pluto, god of the underworld.

Going under London is to penetrate history, to enter a hidden world. "The vastness of the space, a second earth,"
 writes Peter Ackroyd, "elicits sensations of wonder and of terror. It partakes of myth and dream in equal measure."


From the Hardcover edition.

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From the Publisher

From the author of the bestselling London: The Biography, a poetic and powerful urban history of life and legend beneath London. This is a wonderful, atmospheric, historical, imaginative, oozing little study of verything that goes on under London, from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheatres to Victorian sewers and gang hi...

PETER ACKROYD is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet and historian. He is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers, Thames: Sacred River and London: The Biography. He holds a CBE for services to literature.From the Hardcover edition.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 7.7 × 5.1 × 0.6 inPublished:May 7, 2012Publisher:Random House UKLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0099287374

ISBN - 13:9780099287377

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"This book is not a straightforward history of London's relationship with the clay on which it stands but a poetic invoking of what Ackroyd perceives as the diabolic terror of the earth." —Metro "Other worlds lurk below London, and Ackroyd revels in them. The book is both an absorbing history of those parts of the capital that lie beneath our feet and a meditation on the meaning we give them." —Adrian Tinniswood, Literary Review "A literary, cultural and topographical sat-nav for going underground in London... With quick, deft stitches he sews the fantastical and the familiar into a macabre sampler of the city that exists beneath the feet of its citizens." —The Times