Magazine article The Spectator

Capital Rewards

Magazine article The Spectator

Capital Rewards

Article excerpt

London has been the subject of more anthologies than Samuel Pepys had hot chambermaids. This is fitting, as an anthology's appeal - unexpected juxtaposition - matches that of the capital itself.

But it does mean that any new contender has to work hard to justify its publication.

Irreverence is one possible route, and here the Blue Guide Literary Companion: London (Somerset Books, £7.95) scores well, with Trollope spilling ink over a pompous colonel, and Keats struggling not to snigger as Wordsworth is buttonholed by a tedious fan. There are interesting historical snippets: at top-notch Victorian funerals mourners were given paper packets of gravel to sprinkle on the coffin, while the phrase 'the great unwashed' was coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in a novel of 1830. …

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