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Seventeenth-century London fascinates me. It propelled my interest in Isaac Newton (in fiction, Quicksilver, and in fact, the biography by Peter Ackroyd). My time in the Museum of London was spent mostly in the exhibits about The Great Plague and The Great Fire, two catastrophes in two years. I’ve even seen a play set in a quarantined plague house, One Flea Spare.
London: A Tale of Two Cities frames the story of 17th-century London with two surveys, one completed by John Stow (1598; second edition 1603) and the other by John Strype (1720), which updated Stow’s original survey. Comparing the differences between the two, we see the changes as they occur throughout the century. We travel through sites in London related to the 1665 and 1666 catastrophes and also to The Civil War, the developing dockyards, and residences of rich and poor.
If I’m going to continue this fascination with London in the 1600s, what do you suggest that I read or watch?
The host of London: A Tale of Two Cities is Dan Cruickshank, an art historian specializing in architecture. He’s hosted numerous shows on BBC. I don’t think I’ve seen any of his other shows, but I’m going to see if I can get access to them. I found this one on Amazon Prime. It looks like Bridges that Built London is also available there — another London topic that fascinates me.