The Story of the Great Fire of London
A magnificently told, thrilling account of one of the most dramatic events in British history.
There had been other fires, of course. Four hundred and fifty years before, the city had almost burned to the ground. The citizens still called it the Great Fire. But that autumn they were more fearful of destruction borne by water. Across the sea, the Dutch and French threatened a country barely recovered from civil war and still uncertain of its new King. Yet the signs from the heavens were ominous: comets, pyramids of flame, monsters born in city slums. Then, in the early hours of 2 September 1666, a small fire broke out on the ground floor of a baker's house in Pudding Lane. In five days that small fire would devastate the third largest city in the Western world: London. By Permission of Heaven, Adrian Tinniswood's magnificent new account of the Great Fire of London, explores the history of a cataclysm and its consequences, from that first small blaze to the decades-long work of rebuilding. The statistics of the disaster are terrible: 436 acres of closely packed streets burned; 13,200 houses destroyed; -10 million lost at a time when -10 million represented the City's annual income for 800 years. But the Great Fire wasn't simply a tragedy of economics or architecture. It wrecked lives and destroyed livelihoods, it killed and maimed, and it drove Londoners mad in their quest for vengeance. By Permission of Heaven pieces together the untold human story of the Fire and its aftermath - the panic and terror, the bewilderment and violence and chaos, the search for scapegoats, the rebirth of a city. Above all, it provides an unsurpassable recreation of what happened to schoolchildren and servants, courtiers and clergymen when the streets of London ran with fire and 'by ye Permission of Heaven, Hell broke loose upon this Protestant City.'
“The story of London's great fire is one of the set-pieces of English history, but the strength of Adrian Tinniswood's measured narrative lies in the fresh emphasis he places on its fallout.”
Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times
“This book is more than just a gripping account of the great fire...with immense skill, Adrian Tinniswood uncovers the cross-currents of special interests that the disaster brought into play, many of which lend the story an almost contemporary feel.”
Christopher Hudson, Daily Mail
“Admirably researched and highly evocative.”
Nicholas Seddon, Spectator
“Even Pepys is too near and involved an observer to convey the full magnitude of the catastrophe. For that we need an historian, and Adrian Tinniswood's new account of the Great Fire rises impressively to the challenge.”
John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph
Mail on Sunday