As the team are becoming more familiar with the fine details of the books, we thought you deserved to learn some too. So, this week, we’re taking a dive into some of the more scarce finds from our 10,000+ strong collection…
CURZON’S MONASTERIES. In 1849 John Murray of London published the adventures of The Hon. Robert Curzon, under the title ‘Visits to the Monasteries of the Levant’. He started at Constantinople in 1833, as permission was required from the Sultan of Turkey to travel in any of the countries of the Near East, which were all under Turkish rule at that time. Boat wrecks on the Nile, temples and pyramids, Greek monasteries, the wrecks of naval battles – all are commented on in a time just before Queen Victoria came to the throne in Britain and over 20 years before the American Civil War, the Indian Mutiny or the meeting between Stanley and Livingstone in the centre of Africa.
He sketched the places and people he saw and writes about them all in a style that sounds very naïve to our ears nearly 200 years later but which has a real freshness about it. Curzon’s travels ended with drama too – on his return to Constantinople his boat was nearly attacked by pirates!
THE A TO Z OF GEORGIAN LONDON. The London Topographical Society has published a series of volumes called ‘The A to Z of ….. London’ covering the Elizabethan, Restoration, Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods. It is in the same format as the familiar modern ‘A to Z’ maps and it is fascinating to see roads that have stayed largely the same for centuries (like the A5 Edgware Road for example) and others that have come into existence in recent times. Probably the biggest changes happened in the Restoration period (Great Fire of London etc.) and the Victorian period (coming of the railways and the huge expansion of the suburbs and the population). For anyone fascinated by London and its history, or by ancient maps generally, these are ‘must see’ books!