The Spirit of London: Johnson's Life of London Updated to Include London in 2012
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First published as Johnson’s Life of London, now released with new material following Jubilee and Olympic celebrations in 2012. This updated history of London shows that the ingenuity, diversity, creativity and enterprise of the city are second to none.
London’s buildings may be famous, London’s history may be lengthy and illustrious, but it is London’s people who have given, and continue to give, the city its exuberant and exhilarating profile.
London of the Olympic and Jubilee summer displayed Londoners on a world stage, but this is a city which has always lived on the energy and skills of its people, drawn to the capital from all over the country and the world.
Boris Johnson shares with us his pleasure at London’s vitality and unique character, and selects the people who in his view have contributed so much to the spirit of London – some very famous figures, some more obscure. He includes everyone from the Romans to one of the author’s predecessors as mayor, Dick Whittington; from John Wilkes (a strong upholder of the freedom of the press) to J.W. Turner; from Chaucer to Gandhi, and through to modern times.
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interrupted her before the rejection could be completed, and said that she was off to the front in a few days. At which her questioner looked more puzzled than ever, and went off, leaving her in the hospital kitchen. After half an hour she was ushered into the presence of Florence Nightingale herself – ‘that Englishwoman whose name shall never die, but sound like music on the lips of British men until the hour of doom.’ Mary described a slight figure, resting her pale face lightly on the palm of
shown that Nightingale herself contributed quite generously to Seacole’s fund – but anonymously. Appearances mattered in those days. Today the supporters of Seacole are proposing to erect a statue in her honour in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital, where Nightingale started her training school for nurses. *** And it was the Seacole view of alcohol that was supported by most Londoners. The capital did not boast quite as many pubs per head as the seriously sozzled Birmingham or Manchester, but
were Romans, Latin-speaking traders in togas or tunics, from what is now France, Spain, Germany, Turkey, the Balkans – from all over the empire. They had expensive Roman tastes, for wine and red terra sigillata crockery, with its pretty moulded reliefs. Even in this misty outpost, they liked to lie back on their couches and toast each other in gorgeous glass goblets from Syria. It all cost money, and they had got badly into debt; and that, at root, was the cause of the disaster that was about to
on the other hand, looked out of their houses and shops and decided that it was a risky proposition. Essex realised his revolt was over, decided to have lunch, and waited to be arrested. A few days later the repentant earl had his head chopped off in the Tower of London. The queen herself went into a decline, sitting in the dark and moping about the treachery of her favourite. It wasn’t long before she was dead, and James I was on the throne – the outcome that everyone had been hoping for. The
enjoyed a careful and expensive education. He was sent to tutors in Thame, and thence to Leiden University in Holland – then a more prestigious institution than either Oxford or Cambridge, sunk as they were in torpor and jobbery. At university he learned the habits of debauchery that were to last him a lifetime. It is not that he wasted his time at Leiden. He sharpened his mastery of Latin and French; he loved the classics. He first met some of the intellectuals who were to welcome him during his