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  As 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.