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Peter Murray


The new London Society Book Group will be holding its first meeting on 9 May in the evening (venue tbc, but central London).

The book being discussed is the Booker Prize-winning ‘Offshore‘ by Penelope Fitzgerald.

The discussion will be continued online , so even if you can’t make the meeting you can still contribute to the debate. (And you don’t have to be a London Society member to come to the meeting or take part in the online discussion.)

To join the mailing list for this meeting and for future books, please sign up here.

Set among the houseboat community of the Thames, ‘Offshore’ is a dry, genuinely funny novel, set among the houseboat community who rise and fall with the tide of the Thames on Battersea Reach. Living between land and water, they feel as if they belong to neither…


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Peter Murray

Are you interested in books about London, or set in the capital?

There’s a proposal for the London Society to set up a Book Group to discuss books – fiction, non-fiction, history, biography, whatever – that relate to London.

We’d write up the discussions and post them online, and invite comments from people who’ve also read the title, but who weren’t at the meeting. The idea is that we encourage as many people as we can to read the very best books about the capital.

As well as members of the group, we’d need someone to do some organising behind the scenes – letting members know which title is going to be discussed next and arranging meeting times.

You wouldn’t need to be a member of the London Society to take part.

If you’re interested in joining or in helping to run the group, please click on this link we’ll be in touch.


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Peter Murray


We’re delighted that this year’s pre-Christmas talk will be given by Matt Brown, editor-at-large of the Londonist website and author of (among many other books) “Everything you know about London is Wrong“.

Matt will share stories from some of the most intriguing of his perambulations around the capital. Find out what happens behind the lights of Piccadilly Circus; how to stand on the weather vane of St Bride’s; the secret rooms and relics of St Paul’s; and how to dress yourself in the morning when your day includes a trip down the Northern Outfall Sewer AND the press launch of a new sherry bar.

And there’ll be myths shattered, legends overturned and long-held “facts” disproved as Matt shares gems from Everything you know about London is Wrong.

Matt’s book makes an ideal stocking-filler – we’ll have some to purchase at the event – and we round off the evening in traditional style, with mince pies, drinks and other festive goodies.

I hope you can join us – tickets are available here.

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Peter Murray


hawks-booksAs a member of the London Society, chances are your home contains a well-curated shelf of London books. You might even run to a bookcase full. Still, we’re betting you’ve got a way to go to equal Hawk Norton. Norton, who used to work in the printing business, reckons he has approximately 5,000 books relating to the UK capital, constituting what must be the largest private collection on the subject. They are housed in his Brentford home, shelved from floor to ceiling, with stacked boxes struggling to contain the overflow. It started around 40 years ago with a single book, a present from his mother: now the collection includes everything from the first published survey of London, compiled by John Stow in 1598, to Peter Murray’s 2016 Streets Ahead: The Future of London’s Roads, as well as antique prints and maps. Even as he is still adding new titles, Norton reluctantly decided to reclaim some of his living space and began selling off his books. He has just issued his latest catalogue, which runs to 129 pages of small type. With the books listed under categories including ‘Lost London’, ‘Under London’ and ‘London’s Dead’ it makes fantastic reading in itself. Send an email to to request a pdf copy and prepare to spend.



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