Night Walking: A Nocturnal History of London

Author(s): Matthew Beaumont

Travel Literature

Throughout its history, London has been two places: the daytime city of business and work the nighttime palace of dark desires, crime, and vagrancy. This place has attracted writers, lawyers, poets, and politicians who have all attempted to chart and control the nocturnal flows of the capital. In the medieval city, nightwalking was a punishable crime; by the Victorian era, Charles Dickens was forced to wander the streets by night in order to becalm his disturbed mind. Why has the city shrouded in darkness been such a compelling subject over the centuries? Before the age of the gas lamp, the city at night was a different place, home to the lost, the licentious, and the insomniac. In this brilliant work of literary investigation, Matthew Beaumont shines a light on the dark perambulations of poets, novelists, and thinkers from Shakespeare, to the ecstatic strolls of William Blake, the feverish urges of opium addict De Quincey, as well as the master nightwalker, Charles Dickens.


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One of the most brilliant of the younger generation of English critics. Terry Eagleton Nothing less than a grand unifying theory of the counter-enlightenment. Will Self Praise for "Restless Cities" A culturally and historically rich illumination of the city in all its complexity. "Icon" A richly alternative guide to city living. "Metro" A gem of a book, by turns inspiring, shocking and consistently intelligent. "Scotland on Sunday" Bold and admirable. PD Smith, "Guardian" Fresh and piquant observations about aspects of modern living. "Time Out London" "In Nightwalking, Matthew Beaumont rubs shoulders with the deviants, dissidents and dispossessed who lurk in the shadows of Shakespeare, Johnson, Blake and De Quincey." Evening Standard

Matthew Beaumont is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at University College London. He is the author of Utopia Ltd: Ideologies of Social Dreaming in England 1870 - 1900, and the coauthor, with Terry Eagleton, of The Task of the Critic: Terry Eagleton in Dialogue. He has also edited Restless Cities. He lives and walks in London.

General Fields

  • : 9781781687956
  • : Verso Books
  • : Verso Books
  • : March 2015
  • : 236mm X 155mm X 46mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : April 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 496
  • : 1
  • : Paperback
  • : Matthew Beaumont