On Tuesday 2 July the book resulting from the British Academy funded project on the History of the French in London was launched.

A history of the French in London

This book examines, for the first time, the history of the social, cultural, political and economic presence of the French in London, and explores the multiple ways in which this presence has contributed to the life of the city.

The capital has often provided a place of refuge, from the Huguenots in the 17th century, through the period of the French Revolution, to various exile communities during the 19th century, and on to the Free French in the Second World War. It also considers the generation of French citizens who settled in post-war London, and goes on to provide insights into the contemporary French presence by assessing the motives and lives of French people seeking new opportunities in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It analyses the impact that the French have had historically, and continue to have, on London life in the arts, gastronomy, business, industry and education, manifest in diverse places and institutions from the religious to the political via the educational, to the commercial and creative industries.

At the launch - which appropriately enough was held in the Lumière cinema of the University of Westminster, Regent Street, in London - we were joined by an audience of over 100 people, including representatives of the French Embassy and Consulate in London, the Alliance Francaise, the London constituency office of the French MP for Northern Europe, the Franco-British Council, French journalists, business people and a range of French professional associations and cultural organisations established in London, such as the Rimbaud-Verlaine Foundation. Also, many other French citizens of London, and other Londoners interested in our work (linked, for example, to the Bankside Bastille Day Festival and the recent Spitalfields Festival in honour of the Huguenots). There were also representatives of French charities, churches and the French Hospital, colleagues from the Museum of London, the British Library and French Radio London who have directly supported the project in various ways, and fellow academics with shared research interests.

  • A History of the French in London: Liberty, Equality, Opportunity, IHR Publications
    Edited by Debra Kelly (University of Westminster) and Martyn Cornick (University of Birmingham)