Few people know much about Middlesex; it is commonly thought of as one large and featureless suburb. Yet it has a history of great interest, crowded with important events and famous characters, from Julius Caesar at Brentford to Winston Churchill at Harrow. Its history also includes minor curiosities of the past-the devil of Edmonton, the witch of Finchley, the miser of Harrow Weald, the highwaymen of Hounslow Heath-amid the varied incidents of local life in places that are now London dormitories. First published in 1953, at the time this book was the most comprehensive history and description of an English county ever attempted in a single volume. Its first part describes the county's natural situation and its earliest history and surveys its economic life, in particular its almost vanished agriculture and its modern industrial development. There are chapters on particular aspects of Middlesex's history, inhabitants, and buildings. The second part-virtually a book in itself-is a lively gazetteer of the places in contemporary Middlesex, from Acton to Yiewsley. The whole work is fully indexed and referenced, and includes tables of population and a detailed bibliography (both updated for this edition), line maps, diagrams, and 48 pages of superb photographs. Michael Robbins had a lifelong love of the county of his birth, and tramped many miles along Middlesex roads while researching and writing this book; he believed there was no other way of getting to know the county. It remains the standard work on the local history of the county-a book for all who know and love Middlesex.
Michael Robbins was born in Hendon in 1915 and went to his first school in Middlesex. Though not a professional historian, he immersed himself in history and during a long and very active life was President of the Society of Antiquaries, President of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, President of the Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society, Chairman of the Middlesex Council of the Victoria County History, Chairman of the Governors of the Museum of London, and Chairman of the Standing Conference on London Archaeology. He died in 2002 aged 87.