Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


London: The Biography (2000)

by Peter Ackroyd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,178474,022 (3.98)166
Much of Peter Ackroyd's work has been concerned with the life and past of London but here, as a culmination, is his account of the city. For him it is an organism with its own laws of growth and change, so this is a biography rather than a history. This part covers trade and enterprise.
  1. 40
    London Orbital by Iain Sinclair (bertilak)
  2. 20
    The London Nobody Knows by Geoffrey Fletcher (John_Vaughan)
  3. 20
    London Under by Peter Ackroyd (John_Vaughan)
  4. 10
    Thames: Sacred River by Peter Ackroyd (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Knowing and loving London means you have to know the Thames. Peter Ackroyd lovingly describes both with a deep knowledge of history.
  5. 10
    The Faber Book of London by A. N. Wilson (John_Vaughan)
  6. 10
    In search of London by H. V. Morton (John_Vaughan)
  7. 10
    The Making of Modern London by Gavin Weightman (John_Vaughan)
  8. 10
    H. V. Morton's London by H. V. Morton (John_Vaughan)
  9. 10
    London by Edward Rutherfurd (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A fiction work, but innundated with factual information in the style of James Michener. Best of all, it's chronological.
  10. 00
    The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard (John_Vaughan)
  11. 00
    City of the Mind by Penelope Lively (KayCliff)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 166 mentions

English (45)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Just re-read this book and have upped my rating from 2 to 3 stars. Last time I was annoyed by the length, the over-poetic language and the unfounded mysticism along the lines of asserting that there is continuity of spirit in London's locations, because he can find several examples of places where similar activities have occurred at different times. These things annoyed me on the re-read as well, but I found compensation in the sheer volume of interesting information & the sweep of the historical coverage. I like the way he arranges the book by theme - fire, poverty, natural environment - rather than a strictly chronological approach. ( )
  sjflp | Jun 18, 2023 |
This book is a fantastic achievement. Every aspect of the city is both explained and connected. Its motivations and desires are laid bare. To an American, it cannot help but be interesting as this British giant has had so many centuries that it sometimes loses track of them. In its constant rebuilding, whether caused by fire, bombing, or the wreckage of revision, the past is always present.

I did find that Ackroyd made loving use of words such as "palimpsest", "atavistic" and "demotic". However, if those aren't terms that ought to be utilized for London, I puzzle where they do find work. The author's passion for his subject translates well to the reader. We are not left puzzled in his absorption by the very thing he studies. We, in turn, thank him for his sacrifice.

This isn't a quick read. This is a book to get lost in, not unlike the streets that Ackroyd lovingly revisits.
( )
  ednasilrak | Jun 17, 2021 |
I'm not sure why this is called a biography but it has a certain appeal. If you know London, it provides a series of thematic views on a personification level of the capital which are both interesting and warming, rather like amusing anecdotes about a good friend. It's definitely going for the coffee table market and is neither comprehensive or analytical. An enjoyable but in no way a challenging read. September 2020 ( )
1 vote alanca | Oct 15, 2020 |
This is a book composed of short essays on some general topics containing a large number of factoids. While the author has assembled a large amount of information about the city it is often, and far too often, dispersed among a number of rapsodies about the wonder and hidden conflicts of the city. It could well have used a timeline, or several essays arranging a connected account of the themes he returns to so constantly. From a marketing point of view it is admirably designed to be consumed in short visits, thus a good book for the morning commute, or for idle moments during a structured day. and a number of historical maps could have aided the non-resident reader a very great deal. Another lack in a book of such an episodic nature, the indexing is very weak. While Mr. Ackroyd, a good stylist, has made a book that will enjoy good sales, it will not in the long run be a keeper. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 24, 2019 |
An excellent living history of one of the great cities of the world. Ackroyd has researched London history thoroughly and presented in a way that makes you want to book a flight to London, stet. I haven't spent a lot of time in London but I can imagine using "London: the biography" as a guide to the city, learning of the history of suburbs and streets and how, over the centuries, some buildings seem to attract particular types of business.

This was the first book I've read by Peter Ackroyd and I eagerly dived in to read more of his, only to be left slightly disappointed. No doubt I'll eventually find another of his books to love. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Oct 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
London is what was meant to be, secured across the centuries in a multiplicity of races, ways and tongues. You could not re-create it; you cannot destroy it. This London is our London, and if you want to know it better, to see it with eyes wide open, then Ackroyd is your indispensable companion.

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Ackroydprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cipriano, EllenDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, MeganCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
For Iain Johnston and Frederick Nicholas Robertson
First words
If you were to touch the plinth upon which the equestrian statue of King Charles I is placed, at Charing Cross, your fingers might rest upon the projecting fossils of sea lilies, starfish, or sea urchins.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC
Much of Peter Ackroyd's work has been concerned with the life and past of London but here, as a culmination, is his account of the city. For him it is an organism with its own laws of growth and change, so this is a biography rather than a history. This part covers trade and enterprise.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions


Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.98)
1 6
1.5 1
2 18
2.5 5
3 55
3.5 12
4 150
4.5 25
5 106

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 197,715,076 books! | Top bar: Always visible