Saturday 4 February 2023

Book Review: London Under by Peter Ackroyd (Non-Fiction/History)

Title: London Under
Author: Peter Ackroyd
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2012 (2011)
Pages: 202
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction/History
Source: Xmas Gift

London Under is an atmospheric, imaginative introduction to everything that goes on under London, from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheatres to Victorian sewers, gang hideouts and modern Underground stations. This book tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures, both real and fictional, that dwell in the darkness - rats and eels, monsters and ghosts.

From the Anglo-Saxon graves under St Paul's, to the hydraulic device in Kensal Green cemetery which lowered bodies into the catacombs below, to the fossils uncovered when the Victoria Line was built and the gold bars within the Bank of England's vaults, London Under takes you into a hidden world, beneath our feet.


Having enjoyed Ackroyd's previous, longer London 'biography' I was interested to see what this book had to offer. It was a quick and easy read but still packed in a lot of interesting information, most notably on the development of the Tube. In some ways it wasn't quite along of the lines of what I had expected, nor was it super in-depth, but it was still enjoyable and taught me a few new things from chapter to chapter. Recommended as a supplement to Ackroyd's main London book; it gets four stars from me.

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