"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

03 September 2016


de Loutherbourg, The Great Fire of London, 1799

This week marks the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London.

Peter Ackroyd chronicles London's relationship with fire ...

Samuel Pepys prepares ...

Disasters bring out both the best and worst in people. History is littered with stories of people performing both acts of great heroism and despicable deeds while the world collapses around them. Another thing disasters show about people is what they hold dear. Nowadays it is such a popular conundrum that it has become cliche: if the worst happened, what would you take with you?

Everyone would answer this differently, of course, depending on what they value. When the Great Fire of London struck in September of 1666, a wealthy man by the name of Samuel Pepys was confronted by just that question. As the fire burned within sight of his home, he and his servants rushed to save his belongings.

A typical response, no doubt. But one thing Pepys did might seem odd to modern eyes. He recorded in his diary that, as the fire approached, he buried his wine and Parmesan cheese in a hole he’d dug in the garden. Why would someone go to such great lengths to save cheese?


THE FIRE: How the Great Fire started, spread and was fought ... CONNECT

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