Dr Thomas Almeroth-Williams is a social historian and pig farmer’s son who chose a different path …

The author at the Royal Mews, London

straight from the horse’s mouth …

Hello, many thanks for visiting and taking an interest in my book which I hope you will enjoy very soon. The idea for City of Beasts struck me early one morning in 2008 when I was rudely awakened by a surprisingly large number of horses in London’s Kentish Town. The book’s preface gives the full story but suffice it to say that since that ‘eureka!’ moment, relationships, homes, jobs, hobbies and life-quakes have come and gone, but the dream of writing this book has never wavered.

I grew up in a wonderfully wonky old cottage in Hertfordshire in the 80s/90s and quickly displayed more enthusiasm for history and writing than following my dad into the back-breaking work of farming. But while I was joking around with the piglets on our farm, I must have absorbed more than I realised about the relationship between farmer and livestock. So the seed for this book may actually have been sown by the time I was 10 years old.

As a history undergraduate in Durham, I wearily battled everyone from the Visigoths to the Roundheads before staggering into the hearty embrace of Georgian England. After a brief spell in broadcast journalism, I started a career in communications which has given me the chance to tell the fascinating stories of The National Gallery, Historic Royal Palaces, SAVE Britain’s Heritage and, since 2015, the University of Cambridge. All the while, I’ve been working on City of Beasts. From 2010-13, I completed a PhD at the University of York where I was supervised by the exceptional Mark Jenner. Our conversations about dung emptied cafes throughout the city. I remain a Research Associate at the University’s superb Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies.

I hope you will enjoy the ride, discover Georgian London for the first time or all over again, and think about the role played by animals in history in a completely different light.

Best wishes, Tom

P.S. If you were wondering about my unusual surname, Almeroth comes from Herman, a German sugar baker who set up a factory in Whitechapel in the early 1800s. He almost certainly kept a cart horse and I like to think that he treated it well, by the standards of the time. Here’s his signature:

herman signature.jpg
This statue in Liverpool recognises the huge contribution made by horses in the city in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. No such memorial exists in London and animals have been largely overlooked in histories of the city.

This statue in Liverpool recognises the huge contribution made by horses in the city in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. No such memorial exists in London and animals have been largely overlooked in histories of the city.

Image (top) courtesy of Yale Centre for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection