"I keep this book in the smallest room, a place of solitude where contemplation of one’s own mortality is wont to arise"by Billy Bragg / May 9, 2019 / Leave a comment
Who’s Buried Where In England by Douglas Greenwood
It was the dedication that drew me to this book: which is addressed to those of the historically famous who at one time trod the soil of England and now lie deep within it. Greenwood provides potted biographies, first of sovereigns—telling us that Boudica is buried under platform 10 at King’s Cross Station—moving on to statesmen, warriors, philosophers, outlaws and other noble professions. He even has room for the miscellaneous.
My favourite aspect of this roll call of the departed is its range. For a book published in 1990, it has utter disregard for pop culture. John Barbirolli, who shuffled off this mortal coil in 1970, has an entry, yet Rolling Stone Brian Jones, who died the year before, is unrecognised. As a result, the pages are packed with people that I’d never heard of such as John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon, a rum old bird who gets almost a page to himself.
I keep this book in the smallest room, a place of solitude where contemplation of one’s own mortality is wont to arise. Its entries invariably send me straight to Google to follow up on some strange fact that Greenwood has found worthy of remembrance. Did William Barnes really write a study of the fundamental roots of Teutonic speech, entitled Tiw, after the God from whom the race derives its name? If so, where can I find it?
Billy Bragg talks to Oliver Balch, Friday 31st May, 7pm, Llwyfan Cymru—Wales Stage
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