The Tower Menagerie by Daniel Hahn
The Amazing 600-Year History of the Royal Collection of Wild and Ferocious Beasts Kept at the Tower of London

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The strange six-hundred-year history of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London.

From a polar bear who fished the Thames nightly for his dinner to elephants who drank only wine, the inhabitants of the southwest corner of the Tower of London were a strange and rowdy bunch. No less strange was the cast of characters that visited them: William Blake, Chaucer, and Samuel Pepys, to name a few. Daniel Hahn's fascinating history of the Tower of London's Royal Menagerie tells the story of the thousands of exotic creatures who found a home in one of the world's most forbidding and infamous fortresses.

The Royal Menagerie began with a wedding gift: three leopards from King Henry III's new brother-in-law, Frederick the Holy Roman Emperor, in 1235. Soon after, a huge Norwegian polar bear joined them. Over the next six hundred years, the Tower played host to lions, ostriches, elephants, and other unusual animals that astonished London. Brimming with unforgettable stories (the lion who kept a spaniel as a pet; ostriches who were fed a steady diet of rusty nails; lions who, their keepers claimed, could tell whether a woman was a virgin) and beautiful historical illustrations, The Tower Menagerie provides an intriguing, lively survey of our changing attitudes toward animals, as well as a hugely entertaining journey through six centuries of British history.

About Daniel Hahn

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Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor, and translator. He has translated fiction by novelists including José Eduardo Agualusa, José Luís Peixoto and María Dueñas; and non-fiction by writers ranging from Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago to Brazilian soccer player Pelé. He is also one of the editors of the Ultimate Book Guides, an award-winning series of reading guides for children and teenagers, and is currently assembling a new Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. Stella Dreis is a children's book illustrator. Her previous titles include The City that Went Off and The Princess and the Pea.
Published March 3, 2003 by Simon & Schuster Ltd. 240 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Tower Menagerie

The Guardian

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As Europeans in general - and the Tower of London's keepers among them - became more informed about animals and could see their external form more accurately, so they became more expert in torment.

Mar 21 2003 | Read Full Review of The Tower Menagerie: The Amaz...

Publishers Weekly

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Still, Hahn creates a feeling of its impact on society when he uses the Tower's animals as a starting point to discuss our understanding of the animal world, and he offers intriguing anecdotes about how animals and their characteristics have become engrained in our culture and vocabulary.

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London Review of Books

Wesley’s test for signs of spirituality in the king of beasts is not to be mocked in an age when cognitive ethologists are trying to discover whether animals have a sense of humour or can experience romantic love, and are fearlessly addressing queries such as: ‘Is it permissible to play music to ...

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