Nightwalking – a nocturnal history of London

This week’s book purchase is Matthew Beaumont’s Nightwalking – a nocturnal history of London.

Night walking

Nightwalking is a literary portrait of the writers who explore the city at night, and the people they met. It’s a big book – 484 pages in a lovely hardback. The picture does not do it justice. It’s wonderful.

Unlike last week’s book purchases which were a treat, this book was completely necessary. As soon as I read a review in the press I knew it would be extremely valuable as part of my MA research into writing and creativity.


‘I need it,’ I told Chris. ‘It’s about writers who walk. It’s about writers who walk in the dark in the city. It’s an essential item. I need it.’

Chris nodded and pulled his how are we possibly going to get more books into the house face.

‘It will really help my MA,’ I added. ‘It couldn’t be more relevant.’

On the way to the bookshop I talked about my project and how I’ve started to think about the influence setting has on writers, and how I’m looking at writers who walk in the country and those who walk in the city. I’ve also been thinking about walking or running in daylight or darkness and how this affects my own writing. Chris has heard it all before, of course, but I couldn’t stop wittering on.

‘It’s like it was written just for me!’

I was getting excited. A new book. A hardback. A book to help with my MA research.

‘It’s a beast of a book,’ Chris said flicking through the pages. He seemed more drawn to it than any other book I’ve bought before. He started reading some of the pages. ‘It looks really interesting,’ he said. ‘I’ll read it when you’re finished.’

‘What do you like about it?’ I said wanting to spark a conversation about writers roaming the city streets after dark and how the nocturnal city has inspired some and served as a balm or narcotic to others. And how the city is revealed as a place divided between work and pleasure, the affluent and the indigent, where the entitled and the desperate jostle in the streets.

Chris closed the book and handed it to me.

‘It looks like a good book,’ he said.

London's Theatre Land Taken At Night

London’s Theatre Land Taken At Night


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