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The seventeenth-century London Wenceslaus Hollar knew is now largely destroyed or buried. Yet its populous river, its timbered streets, fashionable ladies, old St Paul's, the devestation of the Fire, the palace of Whitehall and the meadows of Islington live on for us in his etchings. Drawing on numerous sources, Gillian Tindall creates a montage of Hollar's life and times and of the illustrious lives that touched his. It is a carefully researched factual account, but she has also employed her novelist's skill to form an intricate whole - a life's texture which is also an absorbing and occasionally tragic story.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712667579
ISBN-10: 0712667571
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 154mm x 17mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Pimlico
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 7-Aug-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Wenceslaus who, you may ask? Yet it is largely thanks to Hollar that we know anything of what London looked like in the 17th century, before the Great Fire, for it was he who produced the etchings of Old Saint Paul's, the palace of Whitehall and the meadows (!) of Islington, old London Bridge crowded with timbered houses, the populous Thames flowing beneath, and of course his famous panorama of the city, seen from an imaginary high point on the South Bank. Yet the artist who preserved his adopted city in such enchanting detail left few traces of his own life. We know that he left his native Prague in the midst of the Thirty Years War, and sought refuge in an England on the brink of its own civil war (a war Hollar avoided by removing himself to the Low Countries, returning only after the execution of King Charles). For the rest, Gillian Tindall, acclaimed author of The Fields Beneath and City of Gold: The Biography of Bombay, draws on a range of sources and on her own imagination to create a montage of Hollar's life and times, and the illustrious lives (Samuel Pepys, John Tradescant, John Ogilby) that touched his. It is a carefully researched account, but Tindall also employs her considerable skills as a novelist to illuminate those areas of Hollar's life for which there are no records (a skill she has already used to effect in Celestine, her prize-winning novel of 19th-century rural life in France). The factual and fictional sections complement each other, forming an intricate whole, not unlike Peter Ackroyd's Hawksmoor in its baroque atmosphere and macabre (if understandable) accent on death and disease. A richly rewarding, multi-layered experience in which literature and history meet head-on. (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Gillian Tindall

Gillian Tindall is a master of miniaturist history, making a handful of people, a few places or a dramatic event stand for the much larger picture. Well-known for the quality of her writing and the meticulous nature of her research, she has written highly praised regional histories of Kentish Town (The Fields Beneath), London's Southbank (The House by the Thames) and the Latin Quarter of Paris (Footprints in Paris), as well as prize-winning novels and history. She lives in London.

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