In the Shadow of St. Paul's Cathedral : The Churchyard that Shaped London

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by Willes, Margaret


Published 01/08/2023 by YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS in the United States.

Paperback | 320 pages, 30 b-w + 21 colour illus.; 3 maps

128 x 197 x 29mm | 298g

The extraordinary story of St. Paul’s Churchyard—the area of London that was a center of social and intellectual life for more than a millennium   St. Paul’s Cathedral stands at the heart of London, an enduring symbol of the city. Less well known is the neighborhood at its base that hummed with life for over a thousand years, becoming a theater for debate and protest, knowledge and gossip.

  For the first time Margaret Willes tells the full story of the area. She explores the dramatic religious debates at Paul’s Cross, the bookshops where Shakespeare came in search of inspiration, and the theater where boy actors performed plays by leading dramatists. After the Great Fire of 1666, the Churchyard became the center of the English literary world, its bookshops nestling among establishments offering luxury goods.

  This remarkable community came to an abrupt end with the Blitz. First the soaring spire of Old St. Paul’s and then Wren’s splendid Baroque dome had dominated the area, but now the vibrant secular society that had lived in their shadow was no more.