Book delving into Islington's rich history republished

A woman wearing glasses and a blue jacket smiling

Pamela Shields is the author of Essential Islington: From Boadicea to Blair. - Credit: Pamela Shields

A book which explores Islington’s rich past, from prehistoric times to the present day, has been reissued with extra information and pictures.

Although Essential Islington: From Boadicea to Blair by Pamela Shields was first published in 2000, the book has been reissued this week and is once again available to buy with some added detail and illustrations.

Pamela explores local legend and urban myths, with a specific interest in the individuals through history who have shaped not only modern-day Islington, but the world at large.

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“Islington's history is not local history, it's world history," she said. "Lenin, George Orwell, Douglas Adams, Alan Parker, Tony Blair, Cat Stevens, John Lydon. It has always attracted unusual, unforgettable people, drawn to this area as if by a magnet.”

Essential Islington opens a conversation about what makes the borough a special place and discusses its character and charm.


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Pamela has collected a great deal of historical facts and detail, but has also focused on the more human aspects of speculation, scandal and gossip.

In the book, Pamela also uncovers a so-called myth that was in fact true: “I was told it was a local legend that when Thomas Paine was staying at The Angel Inn writing The Rights of Man Part I, he received the key to the Bastille from France to present to George Washington.

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"I tracked down letters from Paine to Washington proving it is true.”

Islington’s population has a great deal of contrast. According to Islington Council, there are "high levels of deprivation, with associated long-term benefit dependency, worklessness, high levels of chronic ill health and premature mortality".

It continued: “The borough also contains small areas of great wealth, leading to the common perception that the area is home to media celebrities and visited by well-heeled shoppers and diners.” 

Pamela is now based in France, but says she misses Islington’s unique energy: “You can feel its history as you’re walking around and it’s as if the people that lived there have left their spirit there...it’s just a special place.”

Essential Islington: From Boadicea to Blair is available on Amazon.

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