This collection of eleven tales offers dramatic pinpricks in the rich tapestry of London’s timeline, a city with two thousand years of history. They are glimpses of imagined lives at key moments, starting with a prologue in verse from the point of view of a native Briton tribeswoman absorbing the shock of Roman invasion. The first story is a tense historical adventure set in Roman Londinium in 60 CE from the perspective of terrified legionaries and townsfolk facing the vengeful Iceni queen, Boudica, whose army burnt the fledgling city to the ground.
Further historical dramas take place in 1381 during the Peasant’s Revolt, the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the last ice fair on the frozen Thames in 1814. These are followed by a romance set during the Blitz in 1941, then the swinging Sixties and wide-flared seventies are remembered in the life story of fictional policeman, Brian Smith. Moving on, an East End family get a fright from copycat killings that are a throwback to the 1888 Jack the Ripper murders.
There’s a series of contemporary stories that reference recent events, including the London terrorist bombings of 2005, a literary pub crawl and a daring prison break, building to the imagined death throes of London in a chilling, dystopian vision. These stories are loosely inspired by the author’s personal experiences and reflections on his time living and working in London in the 1980’s and 90’s. Adaptability, resilience, conformity and resolve are recurring themes.
London Tales evokes the city’s rich history and the qualities that were needed by Londoners at various times to survive and prosper – from the base and brutal, devious and inspired, to the refined and civilized.
Available from Amazon in e-book, paperback, Kindle Unlimited and audiobook formats, London Tales is a companion volume to Thames Valley Tales.
Book cover designed by Sean McClean, shows elements from stories.
This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.
Universal link: http://mybook.to/LondonTales
Enjoy an Excerpt:
A Summer’s Disquiet
In 1381 and survivors of the Black Death were angered by the announcement of a direct tax on their earnings, leading to a march on London. In this extract, Mayor of London, William Walworth, dutifully follows his king to the open field of Smithfield for talks with the Peasant’s Revolt leaders…
“Our young king and his giddy age mates are full of excitement, as if it were a tournament we are going to,” Walworth whispered to his friend, Brembre, riding next to him. They were behind the royal party in a long parade that had been cautiously cheered by a modest turnout of loyal townsfolk as it wound its way from the Tower through London’s streets, past churches of stone but in the main lined with wood and thatch dwellings. Evidence of rioting could not be ignored with smoke trails rising from the embers of split timbers and broken furniture strewn before a smattering of ransacked houses.
“You’ve done well, Sir William, in guiding our king to meet the rebels at Smithfield where, despite their greater numbers, they shall see the king, his nobles and his knights arrayed in their armour and fine livery.” A day earlier, the grateful king had knighted Walworth, Brembre, Philipot and Launde for their forthright advice and bravery in facing up to the rebels at the first meeting. Their growing influence at court as trusted advisers to the king would ensure more favours, once this matter was resolved.
The former fishmonger smiled as he rolled in his saddle, uncomfortable due to the body armour fitted beneath his finely woven blue garment belted at the waist by a thick leather belt from which hung sword and dagger in ornate scabbards. The chain of office of Lord Mayor of London also weighed heavily around Walworth’s thick neck. “It’s the most open space within the city and should it come to a charge by heavy horse, the mob will be scattered, regardless of its size. We have mustered a mere three hundred mounted soldiers and nobles, but that is enough to command one side of the ground.”
The royal cavalcade lined up along one side of the open, square space, a well-known meeting point for fairs, markets and holiday tournaments of jousting and other entertainments. It was the site of cattle, sheep and horse markets – a place where livestock was slaughtered and traitors executed. But on this day, Saturday, 15th June 1381, King Richard was now summoning his subjects to meet with him, thus gaining the upper hand and asserting his position as their ruler. The royal party took their place in the middle of the line, flanked on either side by determined armour-clad soldiers carrying lances. Behind them stood a line of archers.
The rebel army had been emboldened by the king’s timid showing the day before, where he had meekly agreed to action their reforms and, rather foolishly, gave his blessing to ‘traitors’, those enemies of Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, being hunted down by the mob. Now, after a full day of looting and murder, fully three thousand commoners filed onto the green field of Smithfield and faced their king and his soldiers. To their front sat Tyler, Straw and Ball mounted on ponies.
King Richard stood in his stirrups and called Walworth to him. “Tell their leaders to come forth and meet me, Sir William,” he announced.
The Author’s Note:
A Summer’s Disquiet is a dramatization of the real events of the Peasant’s Revolt in the summer of 1381. The framework for this story of two men who are set on a bloody collision course is inspired by a truly gripping historical account by Dan Jones in his book, Summer of Blood. My story centres on the characters of rebellion leader, Wat Tyler, and his antagonist, the Lord Mayor of London, Sir William Walworth. In fact, all the main characters are historical figures, and King Richard II was 14 years old at the time, lauded by historians for his bravery in agreeing to meet with the rebellion leaders. Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, was living in rooms above the Aldgate at the time of the revolt.
Their lives, careers and fates became intertwined as truly remarkable events were played out in June 1381. The eventual dispersal of the rebel army by King Richard and his supporters was not the end, as retribution followed as ringleaders of the uprisings were hunted down and executed in the weeks and months after the rebellion almost succeeded in toppling the monarch and seizing London. None of their demands were actioned.
As Richard’s reign progressed, he became more of a tyrant, exiling or executing anyone who crossed him. Perhaps the near catastrophe of the Peasant’s Revolt had made him feel insecure and fed a growing paranoia? He made the mistake of disinheriting and exiling his popular and charismatic cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt and heir to the House of Lancaster. Henry returned to England with an army in 1399 and deposed Richard, becoming King Henry IV. Richard was not seen again and some historians believe he was imprisoned and starved to death.
Tim Walker is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. Although born in Hong Kong in the sixties, he grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. After attaining a degree in Communication Studies he moved to London where he worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO, he set up his own marketing and publishing business. He returned to the UK in 2009.
His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst recovering from cancer treatment. He began writing an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, in 2014, inspired by a visit to the part-excavated site of former Roman town Calleva Atrebatum at Silchester in Hampshire. The series connects the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend and is inspired by historical source material, presenting an imagined historical fiction of Britain in the fifth and early sixth centuries.
The last book in the series, Arthur, Rex Brittonum, was published in June 2020. This is a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur and follows on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum. Both titles are Coffee Pot Book Club recommended reads. The series starts with Abandoned (second edition, 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); and book three, Uther’s Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker.
Tim has also written two books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (second edition 2023), London Tales (2023); a book of verse, Perverse (2020); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); and three children’s books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017), Charly & the Superheroes (2018) and Charly in Space (2020).
Tim took early retirement on medical grounds and now divides his time between writing and helping out at a Berkshire-based charity, Men’s Matters.
Find out more about the author at his website: www.timwalker1666.wixsite.com/website
Goodreads Author Page: https://goodreads.com/author/show/678710.Tim_Walker
Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/TimWalkerWrites
Facebook Pages: https://facebook.com/TimWalkerWrites