Review: The Secret Lore of London- edited by John Matthews*


I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in Leeds, so visits to London were few and far between, or because as a kid I was obsessed with reading historical fiction, but every time I visit the Big Smoke (because I am, essentially, still a provincial) I am always slightly overwhelmed by the history represented by London.

This book is a companion for anyone wanting to explore the capital city’s mythology and folklore: there are essays here about the links between London and Troy; about how a mythological king gave up his head to protect the country (and became sort of linked to the ravens at the Tower); about the goddesses linked to the city’s people over the centuries. There is an essay here for everyone. There are guides to where you can find interesting relics of the folklore in the city and a museum guide, too.

I found the topics easy to dip in and out of (it’s more of a pick ‘n’ mix kind of a book, rather than  one that you would read  in a linear fashion, I think) and some essays appealed more than others; I especially found the pieces about the role of women interesting. However, I passed my copy on to a friend who has spent most of her adult life in London and she said that she was looking forward to reading about the places she knew well- and I think that’s maybe where most enjoyment can be gained from this book. If you know the city like a proper Londoner, I think you’ll enjoy peeling back the layers of history.


*Sent for review


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