Located on the northern banks of the River Thames, the Tower of London is one of Europe's most popular tourist attractions and home to the city's famous Tower ravens, the beloved national pets and "protectors of the Crown" whose domesticated presence is prophesied to prevent the collapse of Britain. According to 17th century popular lore, Charles II feared that England would fall if the ravens ever left the Tower, yet in truth they didn't arrive until the Victorian era, when they first appeared as Gothic props in tales for English tourists.
With accurate scholarship, engaging stories, and meticulous research, in City of Ravens Boria Sax exposes the true story behind London's famous ravens, describing the unique place they occupy in Anglo-Saxon culture and history. Tracing in detail not only the history of the Tower ravens, from their introduction in the late 19th century, but also the hopes, fears, and dreams which have guided their presence up the present, Boria Sax shows how our attitudes toward the natural world have changed enormously over the centuries.
Praise for City of Ravens
“Boria Sax debunks these deliciously macabre legends … a lively entertaining tale, with a few grisly details from real events.” – Audubon
“Building lucent layers of inquiry and metaphor, [Boria Sax] offers a fascinating natural history of ravens, men, and mythmaking.” – Chronogram
“A powerful collection of raven myths … quirky and absorbing.” – Publishers Weekly
“Boria Sax is a likeable writer … his diligent research has not only illuminated the origins of one of Britain’s most famous myths, but also amply demonstrated ravens’ ‘uncanny ability not only to summon old tales but to constantly generate new ones.” – The Times Literary Supplement
“Flowing and delightfully anecdotal.” – New York Journal of Books