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Good book about SE1?

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Sunday 18 February 2007 12.40am
Cloe wrote:
I am currently reading The Secret River by Kate Grenville. It is set in Bermondsey (London Bridge) around 1800. It is fiction but with lots of references to history e.g. tanneries, river thames, the docks etc although the second half of the book is set in Australia (I believe). So far the book is great and I had it recommended by a friend.

I read this in January when I was flying back from Sydney, and meant to post about it too, so I'm glad you mentioned it.

In the book the protagonist mentions a gravestone with the following engraving, and refers to it several times in the narrative:

"Here lie the remains of Susannah Wood, wife of Mr. James Wood, of the Kent Road, Mathematical Instrument Maker, who, after a long and painful illness, which she bore with the greatest fortitude, departed this life the 16th June, 1810, in the 58th year of her age. She was tapped 97 times, and had 461 gallons of water taken from her, without ever lamenting her case, or fearing the operation"

This is actually on a memorial stone on the side of St Mary Magdalen in Bermondsey Street (if you walk through the gate next to the vicarage you can see it set in the wall directly opposite the street), though in the book I think she says it's in Christ Church cemetery. (In the book she does talk about St Mary Magdalen, but calls it St Mary Magdalene - when I see typos like this it makes me think about becoming an editor...)
Monday 19 February 2007 12.17pm
For me, it was "The Southwark Mysteries" by local poet/playwright John Constable that first brought me to the area to have a nosey around. I haven't really left since.
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