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Books on London

O. Books on London.—Concerning the books written upon London it may be said their name is legion, and a complete collection would fill a large library. Among the earliest accounts of the great city are those of Fitzstephen (written in the reign of Henry IL, but first printed with Stow's Survey in 1598); Arnold's " Chronicle, or the Customs of London " (1502); Stow's " Survey of London " (1598, 1603); the same work continued by J. Strype (1720) ; Maitland's " History of London " (first edition, 1739 ; fifth edition, 1775); and Pennant's " London " (first published in 1790, and frequently reprinted since). The only really good work on the subject hitherto is the " History of London," by W. J. Lottie (2 vols. and supplement, 1883-84); but it has many faults, such as are inherent to every first great attempt. A new " Survey," up to date, intended to do fully for nineteenth century London what Stow did for the sixteenth century town, was begun in 1894 by several competent men under the leadership of Walter Besant the novelist, a really competent authority on London. The general reader cannot do better than consult Besant and Rice's little book—"Sir Richard Whittington "—for early times, and Besant's " London " for a general historical sketch, the latter being a most brilliantly interesting series of pictures of social life, founded on chronicles and records. The lover of antiquarian studies must turn to H. T. Riley's excellent and scholarly books, quite invaluable to serious students of London's history— viz., "Munimenta Guildhallse Lond." (with Liber Albus, Liber Custumarum, &c.), with translations and glossaries, 3 vols., 1859-60; the same author's " Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs," 1863; and his "Memorials of London and London Life in the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Centuries," 1868. Of the countless smaller or less important works we can only mention Peter Cunningham's " Handbook of London " (1849; new edition, 1850) ; " Romance of London " (1865), and " Curiosities of London," by John Timbs (1876) ; " Old and Xew London " (1873-78), by Thornbury & Walford; Knight's " London "(1844; revised, 1877);" Northern Heights of London," by William Howett (1869); " In and Out of London," by W. J. Loftie (1876); Thorne's " Handbook to the Environs of London " (1877); " Walks in London," by Aug. J. C. Hare (fifth edition. 1883); " London " (Historic Towns Series), by W. J. Loftie (1886); " Found About London," by a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians (fourth edition, 1887); " Literary Landmarks of London," by Laurence Hutton (fourth edition, 1888) ; Pascoe's " London of To-Day " (1891). There are several useful and carefully-compiled guide books which are reprinted every few years, among which may be mentioned Murray's, Baedecker's, Ward, Lock & Bowden's, W. H. Allen & Co.'s, Dickens' " Dictionary of London " (reprinted every year), and Dickens' " Dictionary of the Thames." There are several directories published annually which give the names and addresses of all persons engaged in business, officials, and of the chief residents in the west end and the suburbs. Statistics concerning the inner life of London, its parochial and municipal affairs, its finances, water supply, police, &c., formerly very difficult to obtain, are now published in lavish profusion by the County Council of London, and in a more restricted degree by the Corporation of the City. Some useful abridgements of the official statistics and returns of London are also given in " Whitaker's Almanack," and the " Metropolitan Year-Book" of Messrs Cassell & Co. gives much information concerning London local government.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5


Last Updated: 20th November 2010