As well as Boswell (previous post), there are quite a few literary connections to St Martins within Ludgate, including with Charles Dickens and Shakespeare.
In “Little Dorritt”, Arthur Clenham, sitting in a coffee house on Ludgate Hill on Sunday evening, hears the church bells ring out.
William Shakespeare had his winter theatre just a few streets away.
And “I owe you three farthings say the bells of St Martins”, from the old “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme could be referring to St Martin within Ludgate which did have a ring of five bells, of which one now remains on display in the church.
Tomorrow (18 October) is the birthday of James Boswell, the famous 18th century biographer. His biography of Samuel Johnson is thought by many to be the greatest biography written in the English language.
Boswell was a regular at church services in St Martin within Ludgate, a Wren church that survived WWII mainly undamaged.
Johnson was born in Lichfield and inside his house, which is now a museum, there is a 19th century stained glass window which is a portrait of the great lexicographer with Lichfield Cathedral in the background.
Today is the birthday of Samuel Johnson, the creator of one of the most important dictionaries in the history of the English language. The London house where he lived from 1748 to 1759 and where he wrote the dictionary, is now open as a very interesting museum.
“I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.”
The great 18th century English poet, William Blake, died 190 years ago, today.
Blake was influenced by the ideals of the French and American revolutions and was a non-conformist who was opposed to organised religion. He was buried in the Dissenter’s burial ground in Bunhill Fields.
There is a memorial window to William Blake in Wesley’s Chapel, across the road from Bunhill Fields.
Arthur Phillip (see previous post) was born within earshot of the bells of Mary-le-Bow church which makes him a Cockney. He was baptised in All Hallows, Bread Street, which was a Wren designed church rebuilt after the Great Fire of London and demolished in 1878. A monument to Phillip was erected in St Mildred’s, Bread Street in 1932, but this church too was destroyed in WWII bombing. Phillip’s bust was rescued from the ruins and placed in nearby Mary-le-Bow. More details about how Phillip rose from his lowly beginnings to become an admiral in the British Navy can be found in Michael Pembroke’s interesting biography.
The poet and revolutionary, Ugo Foscolo, (see previous blog) has an impressive monument in Santa Croce. In the same church are the tombs of many other great Italians such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Rossini.
The Italian poet, Ugo Foscolo, lived in London for the last eleven years of his life. He died in Turnham Green, a suburb adjoining Chiswick, and was buried in the graveyard of St Nicholas, Chiswick – the same resting place as for William Hogarth (see previous blog).
In 1871, at the behest of the King of Italy, Foscolo’s remains were moved to Santa Croce in Florence.