London in the eighteenth century is a city of extremes: squalor and superstition vie with elegance and enlightenment as the capital’s brilliant architect Nicholas Dyer is commissioned to build several new churches in the aftermath of the Great Fire.
Two hundred and fifty years later in the vast, sprawling metropolis of London the legacy of the past lives on, as CID Detective Nicholas Hawksmoor investigates a series of macabre murders that have occurred on the sites of certain eighteenth century churches in the city.
The two narratives run in parallel and then begin to interweave as the investigation proceeds.
Peter Ackroyd (b. 1949) is an English author and biographer whose work often focuses on London. His mother separated from Ackroyd’s father when he was young, and he lived with her and his Roman Catholic maternal grandparents in a working-class area of London. He gained a scholarship to St Benedict’s school in Ealing and went on to Clare College, Cambridge and a Double First degree in English Literature. Ackroyd then attended Yale University as a Mellon fellow, and it was there that he wrote Notes for a New Culture: An Essay on Modernism (published 1976). This was a literary manifesto for postmodernism and a response to Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, a 1943 treatise by T.S. Eliot. Interestingly another book on David Bowie’s 100 Books list is George Steiner’s 1971 work In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture – itself a response to the work by Eliot.
From the 1980s onwards, Ackroyd began to publish biographies and imaginative histories of London. His biographical subjects include Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, Thomas More and Alfred Hitchcock. Amongst his ‘London’ topics are Dickens’ London, the Thames, a Biography of London, and most recently a history of Gay London from the Romans to the present day.
Hawksmoor is available as an unabridged audiobook, read by Derek Jacobi
Books about the architect Hawksmoor from Better World Books