London in the 20th Century: The Glitter & Glamour at the Heart of the Empire

Dr. Johnson’s famous 18th century quote, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford,” could still be applied to 20th century London. By the 1920s the magnificent metropolis that began as the Roman provincial town of Londonium was the most dynamic city on the planet and the capital of the largest empire the world had ever seen.

From the most extraordinary department stores on the globe—Harrods and Selfridge’s—to an unsurpassed theater scene, from Mary Poppins and the Bloomsbury Group to George Orwell, London was bubbling over with dynamic writers, the greatest museums on the planet, and never-ending royal pomp and scandal. But the century also saw the destruction of some of the most beautiful townhouses ever built, as aristocratic fortunes waned and London property values soared.

Historian Curt DiCamillo weaves together these themes and more in this architecturally-focused lecture about one of planet’s most astonishing cities during the most turbulent century in world history.

Harrods, London

Curt DiCamillo

Historian and Author

Curt DiCamillo is an architectural historian and authority on the British country house. He has taught classes in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the School of the MFA. Mr. DiCamillo leads tours on the architectural and artistic heritage of Britain. Since 1999 he has maintained an award-winning website, The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses (, which seeks to document every country house, standing or demolished. In recognition of his work, he has been presented to the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and The Prince of Wales.

He is a member of The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and is an alumnus of the Royal Collection Studies program and The Attingham Summer School. He is currently Curator for Special Collections at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. From 2004 to 2012 he served as Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA (today he serves as Executive Director Emeritus). Previously, he worked for 13 years for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.



Thursday, April 9 | 6:15 p.m.
Reception following lecture


The General Society Library
20 West 44th Street


$35 members; $45 non-members