1. The OED. Increasingly dependable friend, as age rusts my spelling.
2. Mapping London by Simon Foxell. You like history? You like London? You like maps? You’ll love this.
3. The Companion to British History by Charles Arnold-Baker. 30 years in the begetting, a wonderful, wonderful reference work with plenty of humour thrown in. A bit pricy, but worth it: request it for Christmas. Born a Prussian nobleman (birth name: von Blumenthal), the author was variously a war hero, a spook, a barrister, a local government tsar, an academic, a parish administrator, an architecture critic and only relatively late in life, an active historical writer. So there’s hope for us all.
4. Chambers London Gazetteer by Russ Willey. Superb historical reference work of London’s localities. Russ being of this parish, I shan’t embarrass him further.
5. 100 Years of London. Amazing pictures of London from the archives of The Press Association.
6. Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel. Last year’s Booker winner. Fictionalised account of Henry VIII’s court, focusing on Thomas Cromwell. Enjoying it slowly. Will I ever finish?
7. Victorian London by Liza Picard. Does what it says on the tin. Gets right under the skin of London’s Victorian denizens.
8. The Subterranean Railway, by Christian Wolmar. The history of the London Underground. Superb page-turner. Christian has written an article for our November members’ newsletter.
9. Whitehall by Colin Brown. From Cardinal Wolsey to Robin Cook, informative narrative history of the eponymous area of Westminster. Particularly enjoyed the George Downing bit.
10. The Crusades by Jonathan Riley-Smith. I did the Crusades at uni. And Professor Riley-Smith was my tutor. Quite a privilege.
11. The Indian Mutiny by Saul David. My interest in the Mutiny was sparked by Flashman and the Great Game (my favourite Flashman), I subsequently read an account by Christopher Hibbert. Saul David’s definitive book was published about eight years ago.
12. Soldier Sahibs by Charles Allen. Most people know about Clive, and the Mutiny a century later. This book gives a fascinating account of the characters – many of them Ulstermen – who shaped British India in the intervening period.
13. Billy Ruffian by David Cordingly. Excellent biography of ship of the line the Bellerophon, which saw action at the battles of the Nile and Trafalgar, played host to the captured Napoleon and saw her sad end as a prison hulk.
14. Patrick O’Brian section. Novels, of course. Peerless on historical naval accuracy but if you’ve read one you’ve read them all. I stuck at three.