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London Urban Fantasy: Places with History

Journal article
Authors Stefan Ekman
Published in Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
Volume 29
Issue 3
Pages 380-401
ISSN 0897-0521
Publication year 2018
Published at Swedish National Data Service (SND)
Pages 380-401
Language en
Keywords Urban fantasy, world-building, London, geocriticism
Subject categories Specific Literatures, General Literature Studies


London is one of the more popular settings for urban fantasy, standing out by offering both a great many famous locations and a history of two millennia. This essay argues that the city’s past is used to create a sense of “London-ness” by examining ten urban-fantasy versions of London. It identifies and analyzes the functions of four prominent aspects of history in these texts: the city’s origin and pre-origin, the Great Fire of 1666, the periods of building various subterranean tunnels, and the notion that London, at some point, has gone through an architectural Era of Uglification. Through these, London is portrayed as a literary place suitable to urban fantasy: it is a modern city but with a long history reaching back to a beginning where facts and legends mix. This long history gives rise to supernatural entities that hide in the underground tunnels constructed at various points in the city’s history.

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