Simon Thurley: My top five books

Simon Thurley is an architectural historian and former head of English Heritage. his last book Palaces of Revolution: Life, Death and Art at Stuart Court (William Collins £25), out now.

Life in the English Country House, a Social and Architectural History, by Mark Girouard (1978)

One of the most influential history books of my life took building review away from questions of style to ask how he used buildings. Still in print more than 40 years later, it’s an achievement in itself. Yale University Publication £25

God’s Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain by Rosemary Hill (2007)

This is the best biography of any single architect I know, and an authoritative and humorous portrait of the mindset of his era. It would be hard to make up for Augustus Pugin’s life, so extraordinary it was, but luckily Hill didn’t have to, and fact is stranger than fiction. Penguin £19.99

Henry “Chips” Channon: The Diaries (Volume 1) 1918-38, edited by Simon Heffer (2021)

I currently have more than 800 pages of candid thoughts of the social butterfly and politician on my bedside table. Henry Channon. I’m not sure I like the guy but his honesty is compelling to read. Now I am waiting for the second volume, it has just been published. 35 TL

The Last Royal Rebel (2016) by Anna Keay

I must confess that the future King II. I cried at the tragic end of this biography that portrays the Restoration court and horrific antics of the bigoted Duke of York who would become James. II. Charles’ beautiful and clever bastard son, James, Duke of Monmouth, was almost a great national hero – but he came to a terrible end. Bloomsbury £10.99

David Copperfield, Charles Dickens (1849)

I think I’ve read all of Dickens’ novels now, and I consider this not only his best, but also the greatest work of Victorian fiction. It combines excellent social observation with immersive storytelling that you don’t want to end. Penguin £7.99

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *