The Fall of London

Tate Online has a series of wonderfully melancholy lithographs by James Boswell, showing a collapse in law and order in London - mobs in the streets, bodies hanging from lampposts, looters in museums and so on. Collectively entitled The Fall of London, they were drawn in 1933 and it is suggested that they were intended to accompany the novel Invasion from the Air by Frank McIlraith and Roy Connolly (London: Grayson & Grayson, 1934). The accompanying text claims that the book was about 'a Fascist invasion of England' but in fact (and despite the title), there's no invasion as such - it's actually about the knock-out blow. Continuous German air raids cause mass panic in London, which the Government is unable to control, forcing it to turn to the (home-grown) Nazisti to help restore order. The Tate seems to be suggesting that the devastation in Boswell's images was wrought by the unruly mob, but if they were truly drawn for Invasion from the Air, then massive aerial bombardment would be a much more plausible cause. Still, the information about Boswell being a Communist is helpful, as I haven't been able to place McIlraith or Connolly: they may have moved in similar circles.

The lithographs are: Corner House, The Horseguard, Waterloo, Museum, Through the City, London Bridge, The Colosseum, and Looters.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

2 thoughts on “The Fall of London

  1. Pingback:

  2. Pingback:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *