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H. V. Morton's London

de H. V. Morton

Sèrie: In Search Of

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Henry Morton is not often or widely read these days, and that is a great pity and a loss. As a travel writer (his series of ”In the Search of...”is superb) he crafts great prose and he can take a theme, a tour or technology (“The Fountains of Rome” and render it gripping and eminently readable.

His works are – given the in-between wars period when they were written - somewhat ‘dated’ (as if that matters), and are often claimed by critics to be very politically in-correct (and that should not matter very much either – we CAN form our own historical judgments).

His writing tours of England, Scotland Wales and Ireland are complimented by his travel descriptions of Italy, Rome and South Africa … but his London themes, knowledge and access are evidence of his love of this city and its history.

This book, published by Methuen in 1944, is a hard to find treasure, perhaps because it actually contains three of his London books between the covers;The Heart of London, The Spell of London, and The Nights of London it therefore offers good value for its readers, if not to Morton’s publishers. It is a ‘gem’ of a book in another way, being constructed and based on Morton’s wonderfully written weekly (?) newspaper columns about London life. Each chapter is roughly a column length, other more lengthier pieces or chapters included were either because Morton revisited his work before publishing – something he did throughout his writing career – or were ‘special features’. Each stands on its own as an exploration of London life, current (1920-1944) or historical. His awe inspiring access to places and peoples that would probably be debarred to most of us obviously came both from his own charm and the ‘license’ of journalism.

As a book for collectors and readers of city histories, or, judiciously, even as a modern tour guide, this work is something to read or own as it will add a large measure of enjoyment and satisfaction to any ‘visit’ virtual or actual.
  John_Vaughan | Oct 8, 2012 |
It has taken me an awfully long time to read more HV Morton, unforgivable given how much he wrote about London. Earlier this year at the Guildhall’s London Maze event, I picked up a cheap second-hand copy of HV Morton’s London, published in 1940. It’s an anthology mined from three earlier books and journalistic pieces (for that was his profession) – dating back to the very early 1920s.

What a treasure. Lovers of HV Morton will know that he wrote like an angel. His prose is so evocative, you can almost smell, hear and taste the streets, bars and cafés of inter-war London.
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Contains: The Heart of London, The Spell of London, and The Nights of London. Don't combine any of these individual works into this work.
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