Dr Matthew Green London historian and broadcaster Dr Green is an expert in the social and cultural history of 18th-century London. He has an Oxford PhD, writes features for the Guardian and Telegraph, broadcasts on BBC London News, Radio and BBC4, and gives sell-out talks at the Idler Academy, Selfridges, 5 X 15, and Port Eliot. He is co-author of Hackney: An Uncommon History (2012) and a long pamphlet, The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse, to be published via the Idler Academy imminently.
This immersive, critically-acclaimed tour presents the story of Fleet Street from its murky, medieval beginnings to its 20th-century heyday and destruction, blending stories, songs and performances.
Along Fleet Street, printing was transformed from a medieval mystery into a mind-moulding instrument of mass communication. Its printing houses triggered an intellectual revolution that swept away the medieval world, lifting England from the gorge of ignorance into an age of knowledge and enlightenment (and back again with the launch of the Daily Mail in 1896). But the freedom of the press didn’t come easily.
Ghosts dramatises the struggle for freedom of expression from the days of bloodthirsty state censors to Lord Chief Justice Leveson’s attempts to strangle the freedom of the press 350 years later.
Today, without a single printing press to its name, Fleet Street is a ghost of its former self. But on the tour, we’ll resurrect the characters who gave Fleet Street its soul: audacious journalists hanged, drawn and quartered at the behest of Sir Roger l’Estrange, Charles II’s bloodthirsty censor; the celebrated baby rhinoceros who lived in a Ludgate tavern in the 1680s; London’s first celebrity harlot, Kitty Fisher; 20th-century hacks with superhuman abilities to take their drink, cigar-smoking media moguls, and Dr Johnson’s beloved oyster-guzzling cat, Hodge, the purring inspiration for many of his newspaper articles.