The great fire of London (50)
by Samuel Pepys
In a bookshop near you (or alternatively on Amazon) you’ll find a bunch of books available for the bargain price of 80p.
The penguin ‘little black classics’ collection include short stories from the likes of Jane Austen and HG Wells, Ancient tales from Homer (no, not that one!), Philosophy from Voltaire, Neitzsche and Plato as well as diary entries from across the ages including snippers of the diary of Charles Darwin and the one I’ve recently read…
The diary of Samuel Pepys.
For those of you who are little sketchy on the background of Mr Pepys he was an avid 17th century diary writer who whilst living in London and working for the navy wrote about his experiences in London, the 2nd dutch war, the plague which was spreading across the country at the time and vivid descriptions of the great fire of London…
This small 50 odd page book shares some of the diary entries from Pepys and talks about all of these things but focuses the last half of the book on his experiences during the fire which in the 1666 bought much of his knees.
Whilst this book is short and the language often tough to understand it’s an interesting read…especially if you spend any sort of time in London. Many of the London streets and locations Pepys visits on his travels will be familiar to those who call London home and it’s a salutatory reminder of the history of the place many of us love.
It also paints a picture of a city in Chaos with buildings being intentionally demolished to try to stop the fire spreading, individuals (including Pepys) burying their valuable possessions in their gardens for ‘safe keeping’ and the boats of the Thames full of people and possessions running from the fire.
Overall, and despite being a little dull in parts, it’s well worth spending an hour or so with this particular book, especially if you know London and want to have a greater insight into the history of our fantastic city.