Plague was the most deadly disease across Europe for more than four hundred years after the onset of the Black Death in the 1340s. Because of the number of its victims, the foulness of the disease, the disruption which it caused and the literature which it generated, plague has cast a very long shadow, and its reputation is such that it still makes headlines and has the capacity to frighten us.
As England’s biggest city and an international seaport, London was especially vulnerable and suffered periodic epidemics, some of which killed at least one-fifth of its population and brought normal life to a virtual standstill. Only after the Great Plague of 1665 had claimed more victims than any previous outbreak was the city free from the ravages of the disease. In this absorbing history Stephen Porter uses the voices of stricken Londoners themselves to describe what life was like in the plague-riven capital.