on 16 July 2009
I sent this to my mother, and she had this to say about it:
'I Never Knew That About London' - well, born as a Londoner 80 years ago and living there for nigh on the following 40, I did suppose that there wasn't too much I hadn't gleaned and gathered about my City in that time. This little book, however, has endeavoured to and succeeded in knocking my complacency and assurance for six.
The 'knowledge' contained and explained within its covers is delivered without the usual somewhat boring 'info' drag that invades so many other attempts on this subject.
Ranging from total documented fact to lighthearted - but still informative - trivia this particular attempt to describe London as was and has now become is, for me, a winner; a must have and will not lie neglected choked with dust; rather it will terminate in well dog eared tatters. For my son who had the inspiratin to buy it for me - Cheers!
on 25 October 2009
I really enjoyed this, and came away with a renewed appreciation of London. It has made a wonderful gift. The illustrations are really beautiful and refreshingly unfaddish - the format is attractive and timeless.
I must have received an early edition - there were a few layout and formatting errors, but it is the very few factual errors which could have actually potentially undermined this concept. IE; I am sure Mick Jagger did not live with Marianne Faithful until 1978; also I query whether Steve Marriott formed the Faces with Ronnie Wood - I thought Ronnie Lane did after Marriott's departure from the Small Faces. However, I feel I little churlish - the rest is so beautifully done and accurate (as far as I can guess), so I concluded the author wasn't a great fan of rock music!
on 11 October 2009
Samuel Johnson wrote "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is all that life can afford" There are endless books and guides that repeat information about the obvious landmarks. theatres, restaurants and the like but Mr Winn provides a selection of of the lesser known but equally fascinating places to visit or little known facts of Londoners over the years. Unlike the travel guides this is a book that you will want to read and re-read not to use to" Look up"
on 4 January 2011
I am a regular traveller to London and enjoy reading about it, so was pleased to receive this as a Christmas gift.
It's not the sort of thing you would probably pick up and read front to back but more something to dip in and out of. The information is presented in regional sections (for instance there is a section on Westminster and one on The East End - to name just two). Each area then has a number of facts in it, some short, some large, but all interesting in one way or another.
I've not read this all yet, but it is a great little book so far and I have certainly found things out I didn't know, and been corrected on things I thought I knew! Lots of facts to bore people with!
Can recommend this to anyone with an interest in London, or just a thirst for facts!
I am very interested to see that there is an illustrated edition of "I Never Knew That About London", because my only criticism is the small-print format in a book which, even though it has exquisite pen-and-ink drawings, cries out for full-colour illustrations (I clicked on Amazon's "Look Inside" of the illustrated edition, and it seems that the author/publishers had the same idea).
The book constitutes a sort of intellectual insiders guide to London, as it directs the visitor to fascinating hidden nooks and crannies of famous and lesser-known sites that might be otherwise overlooked. The author imparts the origins of place names (e.g., Spitalfields, originally Hospital Fields; Vauxall, originally Faulkes Hall), history (e.g., that the Exchequer derives from a checkerboard table in Westminster Hall; that the first parliament sat in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey in the 13th century), which is combined with anecdotes about famous people (e.g., that Thomas Twining established the first tea room on the Strand, and since the Twinings company is still in the same place, the business constitutes the oldest payer of rates in London). To me, knowing who dwelt where, and the interesting things they accomplished, gives character to a city and a depth of field, as it were, that the buildings alone, no matter how attractive, do not possess.
The book contains two excellent indexes, one of people, the other of places. Arranged according to borough (e.g., City of London, Westminster, Chelsea, etc), "I Never Knew That. . ." contains fascinating nuggets of information, but it takes effort to find them, especially if one has problems with one's eyes. This edition is, nevertheless, an excellent reference to keep in a writer's library, for instance. I checked it out of the library, and since it has led me to discover the existence of the illustrated version, I'm glad I did before purchasing.
Because of its small print, I would give this edition three-and-one-half stars, but I am certainly going to give the illustrated version serious consideration.
on 13 January 2010
I bought this book for my husband who is a black cab driver. He has discovered so many facts relating to the places in the city of london that he learned through doing the knowledge 20 years ago, These are places he passes every day in his taxi, and now he can tell his passengers little facts about what they see on their journey, which makes its interesting for them both!
Excellent little book!