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Drawing on geology, history and the practices of field walking in the streets of London, along the traces of its lost rivers, and on the foreshore of the Thames itself, writer, researcher and licensed mudlark Tom Chivers will propose London as an amphibious city whose past, present and future are fundamentally configured by the actions of water. 

Tom Chivers is a writer, researcher, publisher, arts producer and licensed Thames mudlark. Born in south London in 1983, his publications include the poetry collections How to Build a City (Salt, 2009) and Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015) and the non-fiction book London Clay: Journeys in the Deep City (Penguin, 2021). He is currently completing a postgraduate research project at Queen Mary, University of London in collaboration with Museum of London Archaeology entitled In the Flow of Things: Encounters with the Mudlarks of the Thames Foreshore. He lives in Rotherhithe with his daughters.

The lecture series commemorates the work of Prof. Derek Keene (1942-2021), a leading scholar of London and comparative urban history, and founding director of the Institute of Historical Research’s Centre for Metropolitan History. Co-founded by the Institute and the Museum of London in 1988, the Centre carried out numerous research projects in the history of London and other cities, as well as pioneering work in environmental history and digital humanities. The Centre’s work is now continued by the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community.  

The lecture sits alongside the IHR’s London Summer School | Rivers, running from 8 - 12 July 2024. The IHR London Summer School offers a unique opportunity to explore London’s stories and historic places from our home here at Senate House in the heart of Bloomsbury. Guest lectures from world-renowned experts and interactive workshops will focus on topics from London’s earliest history to the present day – as well as visions and policy debates around its future. 

Site-specific work will take us out to archives and museums, as well as offering special access to some of London’s most fascinating historic sites. Students will have access to the remarkable London collections in the IHR’s Wohl Library, including maps, rare books and a range of important primary and secondary sources. Alongside programmed content, IHR academic and library staff will be available informally for consultation and bespoke support. 

From the Thames to London’s lost rivers, from docks and trade to mudlarks and foreshore stories. Arrivals and departures, bridges and crossing places, and the human experiences of the natural environments of waterways and estuary. Explore the rich histories of London through its rivers.

All welcome- This event is free to attend, but booking is required. 

Image: Tim Chivers by Akiko DuPont