I’ve started reading several Restoration-related books with the intention of reviewing each of them once I’m done. However, since I seem to keep starting new ones before finishing the old ones, I thought I’d go ahead and write about some of them as readings-in-progress.

Fire of London The first is Stephen Porter’s The Great Fire of London (Sutton Publishing, 1996). The Great Fire occured in 1666, “raged for our days and destroyed 13,200 houses, 87 churches, and 44 of the City of London’s great livery halls.” It is one of the most important disasters in British history and had a profound effect on the subsequent development of London as a city. Most students of Restoration literature are familiar with Samuel Pepys’s narration of the fire in his Diary.

Porter’s The Great Fire of London begins by surveying the dangers of fire in 1660s London and recounting the precautions people took to avoid these dangers. One of the things I’ve already learned from reading it is just how prevalent fires were in the seventeenth century. Like so many disasters throughout history, this one was not unforeseen nor did it come out of no where. I’ve also been interested to learn about fire fighting techniques (if that phrase isn’t a misnomer) in 1660s London — let’s just say that they were surprisingly rudimentary and chaotic compared to those of the other great cities of Europe at the time.

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