London – The Biography

Peter Ackroyd
London - The Biography

No one should or needs to read any other book on London. For Ackroyd London is a living organism, with its own laws of growth and change. Anecdotal, brilliant and wonderfully entertaining. LONDON is animated by Ackroyd’s concern for the close relationship between past and present as well as how its texture and history actively affect the lives and personalities of its inhabitants. (822 pp)

‘His masterwork… A rich torrent of remarkable lists, bizarre anecdotage, stink, press and clatter, the gestures of the street, the violence and the cruelty, the beauty and the energy of this greatest and most horrible of cities. It is just fantastic.’ Andrew Marr, Daily Telegraph

‘The best known of all remarks about London is Samuel Jackson’s aphorism: ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. The same could be said with equal justice of any reader who finds no pleasure or instruction in Ackroyd’s book.’ The Spectator

‘In his selection of events, Ackroyd’s sure eye for what matters to Londoners presages the enjoyment in store.’ Sunday Express

‘The past few years have seen a millennial flood of histories of London; many of them will last, but you can be sure that none of them will match the sheer virtuosity or spirit exhibited by this flawed but compelling book.’ Sunday Times

‘Peter Ackroyd has written an episodically brilliant book. No one gets London – especially pungent, raucous, randy London – quite as well as he.’ The Sunday Telegraph

‘There are thousands of books about London. In recent years, there have been a number of perfectly excellent formal stories of the city. But it would be no exaggeration to say that Peter Ackroyd’s ‘biography’ of our capital is not a book: it is the book about London.’ Daily Mail

‘This is an erudite labour of love, a fan-letter to a fabulous city, and a book one suspects Ackroyd was destined to write. It illuminates the English character, and is darkly humorous in its detail, tumbling through centuries crowded with legendary events and eccentric observations, as exuberant, energetic and alarming as the city itself.’ The Independent

‘You will not find a better, more visionary book about a place we take for granted, despising, envying, seeing without eyes properly open … This London is our London, and if you want to know it better, to see it with eyes wide open, then Ackroyd is your indispensable companion.’ The Observer


  • Chatto & Windus UK
  • Nan A Talese USA
  • Knaus Germany
  • Neri Pozza Italy
  • Edhasa World Spanish
  • Editions Philippe Rey France
  • Alpina Russia
  • BB Art Czech Republic
  • Yilin Press China (simplified)
  • Zysk Poland
  • Varrak Estonia
  • Palitra Georgia
  • Janet 45 Bulgaria
  • KM-books Ukraine

Material: finished copies (822pp)