Sunday, July 29, 2012

Robert O. Bucholz

From a Q & A at the publisher's site with Robert O. Bucholz, co-author (with Joseph P. Ward) of London: A Social and Cultural History, 1550-1750:

Can you summarise the subject of your book, and what inspired you to write?

Our subject is how London became (arguably) the greatest city in the Western world, the inventor of much of modernity, and therefore a city worthy of hosting the Olympics. We wrote it because there really is no other book that examines this subject comprehensively for this period. More specifically, this is the first and only book about late Tudor, Stuart and early Hanoverian London -- the London of Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, and Charles II; Shakespeare, Moll Cut-purse, Samuel Pepys, and Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders; Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Christopher Wren.

Why did you choose to write about this particular period in London's history?

We argue that this was the most interesting time in London's history for between 1550 and 1750, London grew from the moderately sized capital (about 50,000 people) of a 2nd rate country into the biggest city in Europe (700,000 people), the capital of the British Empire, a nexus of finance, trade and culture that it remains today. Indeed, we argue that it was in London that many of the hallmarks of modernity got their start, received their perfection, or were popularised for the Anglophone world. These included constitutional monarchy, participatory democracy, modern government finance, an effective civil service, a relatively free press, the first commercial concerts of music, the first viable commercial theatre since ancient times, novels, newspapers, clubs, insurance, decent street-lighting, three-piece suits for men, etc., etc. With the possible exception of Amsterdam, no other city on the planet did more to catalyse modernity.

What was life like for Londoners during this period of growth?

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the growth of London was that it was...[read on]
--Marshl Zeringue