First held in 1829 the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race takes place between Putney and Mortlake, with ‘Dark Blues’ and ‘Light Blues’ rowing side-by-side. This year, for only the third time, the Men’s and Women’s Races were held on the same day. Cambridge gained mastery of the Thames, winning both races in triumphant style.
Here is a selection of books which will introduce you to the many faces of the river.
Peter Ackroyd, Thames: Sacred River
This is the story of the Thames from its source to the sea, from prehistoric times to the present. Caesar’s troops were able to cross the river because in AD 54 it was fourteen feet shallower than it is now. Ratty and Mole from Wind in the Willows boated on it, as did Hogarth (drunk) and Shelley. This book is a splendid mix of history, mythology, literature and folklore – extraordinary and sometimes unsettling details held together in Peter Ackroyd’s magical prose.
Helen Humphreys, The Frozen Thames
Londoners will never again witness the Thames frozen, never enjoy the frost fairs or hear the ice cracking as they look out over the city’s greatest waterway (it’s the bridges that are to blame, not the climate – the lower reaches of the river now flow too fast to freeze). In forty captivating vignettes Helen Humphreys describes each time the river froze between 1142 andy 1895. With period illustrations, this is a delightful and unusual glimpse of the river.
José Manser, Mary Fedden & Julian Trevelyan: Life & Art by the River Thames
For nearly forty years these two artists lived at Durham Wharf in Chiswick on the River Thames, hosting Boat Race parties in their studio each spring. José Manser reveals how they fell in love, married, lived and travelled together, each supporting the other in their very different styles of art. With over a hundred illustrations this brilliant double biography reveals both their lives and work.
Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore
This charming amusing novel depicts a community of like-minded, lost and eccentric people living on houseboats at Battersea Reach in the sixties. Despite their proximity to the wealth of the mainland they teeter on the edge of respectability: poverty, drink and disorganisation threatening their downfall. Aptly described as the novelistic equivalent of a Turner watercolour.
To order any of these books please email firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone (020 7493 9921) or, better still, visit the shop. We are open from 9.30-8 Mondays to Saturdays and 12.30-6.30 on Sundays. We look forward to seeing you.