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The Spirit of London

Paul Cohen-Portheim

Simon Jenkins



ISBN: 9781849940283

Price: £16.99

Publication date: 14 October 2011

Category: History

A reissue of a truly classic title on the Batsford backlist. First published in 1935, it is a wonderful snapshot of our capital before the Second World War, and a charming insight into our attitudes to urban life back in the Thirties. Our posh guide Cohen-Portheim offers us his interpretation of life in London through her people, her buildings and her history.

The chapters include:

Towns within

Town Streets and their Life

Green London

London and the Arts

London Amusements and Night Life

Hotels and Restaurants

Traditional London

London and the British

London and the Foreigner (surprisingly liberal!)

It includes the iconic Brian Cook cover illustration of Ludgate Circus and St Pauls, and should be sought after for that alone. Add in the charm of the authentic voice of a 1930s Londoner, it should be enjoyed by all Londoners.


Paul Cohen-Portheim (1880–1932) was an Austrian artist and travel writer. He was a proficient linguist and spoke a half a dozen European languages fluently. When World War I broke out, he was painting in Devonshire, and found himself interned for the length of the war. This gave him time to read, observe and meditate, especially on his enforced new home. After the war he wrote England, the Unknown Isle and later The Spirit of London, showing his affection for England and London especially. The Spirit of London was the last thing to be published after his sudden death in 1932.