DEFOE A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, London, 1724-26, Letter 5, City of London

To enter here, into a particular description of the city of London, its antiquities, monuments, &c. would be only to make an abridgment of Stow and his continuators, and would make a volume by itself ; but I write in manner of a letter and in the person of an itinerant, and give a cursory view of its present state, and to the reader, who is supposed to be upon the spot, or near it, and who has the benefit of all the writers, who have already entered upon the description.

By London, as I shall discourse of it, I mean, all the buildings, places, hamlets, and villages contained in the line of circumvallation, if it be proper to call it so, by which I have computed the length of its circumference as above.

We ought, with respect to this great mass of buildings, to observe, in every proper place, what is now, and what it was within the circumference of a few years past.

It is, in the first place, to be observed, as a particular and remarkable crisis, singular to those who write in this age, and very much to our advantage in writing, that the great and more eminent increase of buildings, in, and about the city of London, and the vast extent of ground taken in, and now become streets and noble squares of houses, by which the mass, or body of the whole, is become so infinitely great, has been generally made in our time, not only within our memory, but even within a few years, and the description of these additions cannot be improper to a description of the whole, as follows.


Moll Flanders (1722)



Click on Moll and take her with your mouse along the red route towards Newgate prison; the relevant extracts of Defoe’s text will appear at each stage of your journey.






I walked away, and, turning into Carter-house Lane,


made off thro’ Charter-house Yard, into Long-Lane,


then cross’d into Bartholomew-Close, so into Little Britain,


and through the Blue-Coat-Hospital, into Newgate-Street.





  • COPELAND, Edward. “Defoe and the London Wall: Mapped Perspectives” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 10 (1998): 407-28.
  • DECONINCK-BROSSARD, Françoise. “Moll Flanders et la ville : recherche électronique” Villes en visites virtuelle. Paris: PUPS, 2000
  • Anne BANDRY. “On peut compter sur Moll.” XVII-XVIII 45 (Nov.1997): 171-90.
  • WALL, Cynthia. The Literary and Cultural Spaces of Restoration London. Cambridge UP, 1998.