This month, Yale University Press London staff voted for their favourite book on the theme of ‘London‘. Find out which books they recommended and why.
April’s Staff Pick: Migrant City
Migrant City: A New History of London by Panikos Panayi received the most votes from our staff and is this month’s Staff Pick.
The first history of London to show how immigrants have built, shaped and made a great success of the capital city
Managing Director and Publisher, Heather McCallum voted for Migrant City because ‘migrants make London’. Heather also loved the message and tone of the book as well as the author’s personal enthusiasm for the subject and its authenticity.
Andrew Jarmain, Head of UK Sales, added ‘the book shows London’s diverse history, the city has always been made by the mix of people arriving and contributing. The book’s release was a bit overshadowed by the first lockdown but it came back with a great, positive and dazzling new cover and claimed its space!’
How does this book portray London? ‘In the best possible way as David Lammy said in a review, Its potency comes from its incontrovertibility; without immigration, London would not exist as we know it”‘
Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth by Lee Jackson
In this intimately visceral book, Lee Jackson guides us through the underbelly of the Victorian metropolis, introducing us to the men and women who struggled to stem a rising tide of pollution and dirt, and the forces that opposed them.
Maria Zygogianni, Marketing Campaigns Executive, said, ‘Lee Jackson is a wonderful speaker, incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about Victorian history and culture!’
Hidden London: Discovering the Forgotten Underground
An exploration of the abandoned tributaries of London’s vast and vital transportation network through breathtaking images and unexpected stories
Editorial Director, Mark Eastment recommended Hidden London, ‘Our best selling book on London in what we know is a very full and worthy list of books. It explores London underground stations that are generally closed to the public with a fascinating social and architectural commentary too.’
On his ‘wonderful’ experience working with the authors Mark mentions the ‘team of three curators from the London Transport Museum all of whom were equally passionate about this aspect of London life’.
In the Shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral: The Churchyard that Shaped London by Margaret Willes
The extraordinary story of St. Paul’s Churchyard—the area of London that was a center of social and intellectual life for more than a millennium
Piqued by personal interest, Office Manager, James Evans recommends In the Shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral as it ‘Explores an under appreciated part of London’s literary history.’
Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England – London (multiple volumes)
Mark Eastment also recommended the London Pevsner Architectural Guides, Mark said, ‘How could the Pevsner series not be a celebratory one? They cover all areas of London in such great detail that whatever your interest you will find new and fascinating information easily at hand.’
The London Cage: The Secret History of Britain’s World War II Interrogation Centre by Helen Fry
The first complete account of the fiercely guarded secrets of London’s clandestine interrogation center, operated by the British Secret Service from 1940 to 1948
Linda McQueen, Production Editor, recommends The London Cage by Helen Fry.
Linda said, ‘As a freelance editor, I have been working for several years with an author who is writing a series of novels set in World War Two. They are a cross between a gay romance saga and a Boy’s Own adventure style, and protagonists work for the secret wartime Special Operations Executive or SOE. Helen Fry’s books perfectly overlap with these novels and are excellent not just for facts but for atmosphere.’
On the topic of portraying London the book shows, ‘London in the Second World War was an austere, embattled place, with many fine buildings destroyed nightly during the Blitz. It’s really good to see the people working frantically behind the scenes to protect the country.’