Literary City

So I had last week off. It was lovely. I discovered I live walking distance from Hyde Park; visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum; went to the Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture; and met the amazing folks of LOTNA, London’s oldest and awesomest scifi meetup group. I won’t belabour the details, as I’ve spoken to many of you already in the past week – but being the book geek that I am, there is one journey I’d like to share:

One of the first things I did last week was head out on Sunday to do a walk out of Roger Tagholm’s Walking Literary London. He’s a great writer, wry and clear, and I decided to do the one around the City (the financial district/area around St. Paul’s and down to the Tower of London). Although it’s full of banks now, and eerily quiet on Sundays, it was once a hopping area for literary up and comers. Kenneth Grahame and PG Wodehouse both worked at banks in their day – although Wodehouse didn’t last long, having, among other things, once torn out the first page of a ledger to pursue a short story idea. TS Eliot worked as a clerk in a below-ground office on Cornhill Street (which is also home to the office where the Brontes had a legendary meeting with their publisher). And by far my favourite parts of the day were seeing some of Samuel Pepys’ old stomping grounds – including the alley where he lived when on September 3, 1666, he awoke at 4am to see the Great Fire raging, and, still in his dressing gown, managed to salvage most of his possessions. Including, of course, the diaries that have made him famous and given us insights into a period from which many other records did not survive. And speaking of survival, another amazing part of this walk was seeing all of the buildings and churches, some over 1,000 years old, that were partially damaged by the Great Fire and later the Blitz during WWII. And just to cap the day off I saw something a little more modern – the square at the London Guildhall, where the Booker Prize gala is held every year, and all the luminous literati of the West strut their stuff.

Here are some pics from the walk – I haven’t included everything, but this should give you a taste of the City on a Sunday. The captions explain what’s what.

I’ve got a longer post a comin’ with more thoughts on teaching, and on living here – I’ve been a Londoner more than a month now, and I think I’m getting the hang! Should be ready tomorrow – for now, to bed. Sweet dreams.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Dianne and Ivan Mills on March 24, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Sam – I just loved these pictures. Wish I had been there with you.

    Aunt Dianne


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