WASHINGTON (Oct. 21, 2014)—This fall, National Geographic will publish the perfect book for Anglophiles of all ages, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC LONDON BOOK OF LISTS: The City’s Best, Worst, Oldest, Greatest, and Quirkiest (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-1382-3; on sale Nov. 4, 2014; $19.95), by Tim Jepson and Larry Porges. The book features 139 lively and entertaining lists that highlight fascinating facts, hidden history, intriguing curiosities, must-see places and snippets of daily life from London’s 2,000-year history.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC LONDON BOOK OF LISTS not only contains some of National Geographic’s guidebook favorites — restaurants with superb views, the city’s best curries, its oldest stores — but it also delves deeper, sharing strange old laws still on the statute books; the arcane slang of London’s taxi drivers; jobs you might apply for at Buckingham Palace; the best fish and chips shops; the most common birds; and many other lists that create an eclectic picture of London.
The lists in this easy-to-dip-into compendium are accompanied by quotes; sidebars containing compelling facts and figures; snippets from diaries and other firsthand sources; old National Geographic magazine excerpts and observations; and much more. Examples of the lists and fun facts they include are:
- London Firsts: The first banana seen in Britain was sold in London on April 10, 1633.
- Smallest, Shortest, Narrowest: The narrowest alley in London, which connects St. Martin’s Lane and Bedfordbury in Covent Garden, narrows to just 15 inches (38 cm).
- Most Prized Crown Jewels: The Imperial State Crown is encrusted with 2,868 diamonds, 269 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and five rubies. The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross contains the world’s largest flawless colorless cut diamond at 530.2 carats.
- Antiquated Traditions Still in Use: The Ceremony of the Keys, the ritual locking of the Tower of London’s gates, has been performed nightly without fail for more than 700 years.
- The Underground or Tube: More than 1.1 billion passenger journeys are made annually on this transport system that stretches 249 miles. An estimated 500,000 mice are believed to inhabit the Underground.
- Unusual Insurance Policies of Lloyd’s of London: The hands of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards are insured for 1 million pounds ($1.6 million).
- Harrods Facts: In 2007, Harrods department store hired a live Egyptian cobra to guard a pair of gem-encrusted sandals valued at 62,000 pounds ($100,000).
- Fun London Laws Still on the Books: Under the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, which has never been repealed, it’s a civic offense to clean your toilet between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight; to keep a pigsty in front of your house unless duly hidden; to beat or shake a carpet or rug in any street; and to be found drunk in a pub.
- London’s Longest Running Shows: “The Mousetrap” opened Nov. 25, 1952, and is still running.
- If Money Were No Object: This sampler of some of the many indulgent things London has to offer includes a cocktail at the Playboy Club for 5,500 pounds ($8,800) and a night at the Dorchester Hotel’s Harlequin Suite for 9,320 pounds ($14,900).
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC LONDON BOOK OF LISTS is written with wit and designed with brief, digestible entries that shed light on a broad spectrum of the city’s social, cultural and historical facets in a fun (and stealthily educational) way.
About the Authors
TIM JEPSON has written more than 30 travel books, including five in National Geographic’s series of Traveler guidebooks, as well as many articles for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers and website, Vogue, Conde Nast Traveller (UK), the London Evening Standard, The Spectator, House and Garden, and more. Born near the River Thames and a graduate of Oxford University, Jepson has been a long-term resident of Notting Hill, in central London, working as a commissioning travel editor for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, and lately as a freelance writer, musician and travel consultant.
LARRY PORGES has been a book editor at the National Geographic Society for more than a decade. A former London resident, Porges updated the 2011 National Geographic Traveler guidebook to the city and was a contributing author on the National Geographic e-book “Quintessential London.” A graduate of Tufts University with a concentration in English history, Porges misses London, especially the London Evening Standard, Little Venice and being surrounded by people who think of Starburst candy as Opal Fruits.
About National Geographic Books & Home Entertainment
National Geographic Books & Home Entertainment creates and distributes books, videos and other print and digital media that inform, engage and entertain diverse audiences about our world. Annually, the group publishes more than 125 new books for adults, families and kids and releases 250+ new DVDs and digital downloads of the Society’s films and TV shows, and these National Geographic titles are available in more than 35 local-language editions. While special photographic and film collections, travel books, nature shows, birding guides and atlases are a core focus of the Society’s products, books and videos on subjects as diverse as animals, the human mind, history, world cultures and the cosmos are also produced. For more information, visit facebook.com/NatGeoBooks and nationalgeographic.com/books.