Peter ackroyd

City of gold: Peter Ackroyd on the undimmed spirit of London

The silenced city has been, for some, uncanny. Deserted evening streets, darkened pubs, shut shops and the absence of fellow footsteps might suggest that some essential spirit has fled. Yet this is exactly the wrong way to look at it, says the novelist, historian and biographer Peter Ackroyd. For him, both lockdown and winter provide opportunities to see London in a different light. ‘The silence and the empty streets are very appealing,’ he says. ‘This is the time when Londoners get to hear distant church bells,’ he adds. ‘The identity of the city changes enormously in the winter and loses some of its majesty — but it retains its life