The Biography

Book - 2000
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Much of Peter Ackroyd's work has been concerned with the life and past of London but here, as a culmination, is his definitive account of the city. For him it is an organism with its own laws of growth and change, so this book is a biography rather than a history. Ackroyd reveals the dozens of ways in which the continuity of the city survives - in ward boundaries unchanged since the Middle Ages, in vocabulary and in various traditions - showing London as constantly changing, yet forever the same in essence.
Publisher: London : Chatto & Windus, 2000
ISBN: 9781856197168
Branch Call Number: 942.1/ACK 4565 1


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Oct 28, 2016

Oct 28 2016.....I would have to say that you really must know something about London to really enjoy this book. I have spent a week there, which is to say that I don't really know much about the city, and I am finding this, while occasionally interesting, more a bit of a slog. I have to agree with the comment below, that it is really not a book to read cover to cover. I was given this by a friend, (one that I spent the week in London with,) and I will be passing it on when I am done. (Not one I will read again!) One thing I am amazed about, is how brutal London was (is?) to live in. Pressing people to death? Whoa!....... I had a great time while I was there, but glad that I was just a tourist. Small towns are more my cup of tea! .......I am reading the book "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand at the same time, and it is a much more exciting and engaging read!......I finished this on Nov 14. It really was a long hard go! (but I did it!) This big fat baby will not be staying on my shelves. I hope to find someone who can appreciate it more than I did, or maybe it will just move into one of the "Little Free Libraries".

Dec 05, 2009

The title of this book is misleading. A biography gives the impression of a linear story, starting with birth and early years, moving on through becoming and developing. This is more like a series of barely connected essays. I would not recommend trying to read this from cover to cover. I found it most enjoyable when picking it up, choosing a chapter that caught my fancy, and just reading that before putting it down to await the next time.

On the whole, it's a pleasant book to keep by the bedside for dipping in and out, and I did become aware of events that had escaped my attention, such as the Gordon Riots.

Both my husband and I have family roots going way back in London, so I had fun imagining my ancestors struggling in the East End, jostling to watch public hangings, discussing the latest sensational murder, or strolling down just about any street in London. Not a cuddly or rosy view of the city, but engaging just the same.


Add a Quote

ellensix Oct 18, 2015

London goes beyond any boundary or convention.It contains every wish or word ever spoken, every action or gesture ever made, every harsh or noble statement ever expressed. It is illimitable. It is Infinite London.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top