Loved and hated in equal measure, London was for centuries the world's greatest city. Its streets, teeming with history, have always worn a variety of influences, reflecting the diverse crowds who have walked them. Its citizens have witnessed everything from pilgrimages, celebrations, acts of heroism and moments of religious contemplation to riots, executions, grisly murders and disastrous plagues and fires. Drawing on letters, diaries and memoirs of London's most interesting inhabitants and visitors, this anthology compiled by acclaimed historian Thomas Wright and with an introduction by Peter Ackroyd tells the story of the city from its earliest years.Here you will find John Evelyn's famous account of the Great Fire in 1666, Dickens's brilliant evocation of the Gordon Riots of 1780, an eyewitness description of the execution of Charles I, and Churchill's recollections of the Blitz. There are also less familiar, though no less vivid, excerpts, which provide an entertaining, sometimes risqué glimpse into the life, customs and morals of this great city.