Avril Nanton and Jody Burton, two London scholars, bring us Black London: History, Art & Culture in over 120 Places, a guidebook that brings to light buried history while using a variety of infographics.
Avril Nanton started her own tour company in 2016 – “Avril’s Walks and Talks,” and has collaborated with librarian and Caribbean studies author Jody Burton to create this extensive and in-depth guidebook celebrating Black history in London.
This guidebook is primarily made up of landmarks around London that are historic, meaningful, and representative or celebratory of the Black British experience and history. Each landmark is noted with a location stamp (there are maps at the front of each section) and a little blurb about what the landmark is and the significance of it. The landmarks range in cultural significance and historical impact. For example, some landmarks are street art, whereas others are statues or monuments such as Cleopatra’s needle.
The book acts as a walking companion and is small enough to fit into a bag. Thematically, it divides London into five sections: Central, West, North, South, and South-East London. Each section begins with a map and every landmark is marked with a pin that is later expanded upon in great detail.
The writing throughout the guidebook is clear and rich in information. Historical figures highlighted include Nelson Mandela, Jimi Hendrix, and Maya Angelou in addition to a plethora of figures important to British history and culture.
In addition to the bulk of text about the various sites around the five primary areas of the city, the guidebook includes some other relevant infographics.
There’s a wide view map that shows the major landmarks along the Thames using a simple design which functions as an overview of what’s to come. Additionally, there’s an extensive timeline highlighting Black history in London which documents a range of events such as the first performance of Othello and the 200th year mark of the abolition of the slave trade.
There’s an events page, an extensive index and further reading recommendations at the back of the book. Though it is a small book, it is packed full with information, history, and culture from previously untold stories.
This is a work of practical and informative history that is interactive and a document I’m sure will only continue to expand.
By: Ashley Clemens
Image description: the ‘Black in London’ book cover shows a map of London in black and white with the Thames river highlighted in pink. Cultural artefacts are depicted across the map in white which includes the iconic London red bus and statues.