Our shops are open and we are processing online, telephone and email orders as normal

LEAKE, William Martin.

The Topography of Athens with some Remarks on its Antiquities.

London: John Murray, 1821 Stock Code: 106230
Reserve Ask us a question

First edition. "The basis for modern topographical and archaeological studies of the city. A very important work" (Blackmer). Trained at the Royal Military Academy, Leake served for three years on the garrison at Antigua before joining the British military mission to the Ottoman empire in 1799. He accompanied an Anglo-Turkish expedition overland to Egypt in 1800, seeing action at the battle of al-Khanka and the siege of Alexandria in 1801, before returning home via Greece in 1802. Between 1805 and 1810 he travelled extensively through Greece and the Levant, acting as liaison with Ali Pasha in an attempt to influence the vizier to support Britain's actions against the French in the region; "The mission was not a complete success: increasingly, Leake felt his life was threatened by Ali Pasha and eventually he left" (ODNB). During Leake's residence in Greece he met Byron who found him: "taciturn', ill-dressed and quite unlike an Englishman of this world". Back in London, "Colonel" Leake as he was universally known, was a frequent contributor to learned journals, eight of his papers appeared in the Classical Journal between 1814 and 1822, and twenty in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature between 1829 and 1851, and this together with the publication of nine books, including the present, secured him a place, despite his "singular modesty", as "a well-respected member of the unseen college of intellectuals, politicians, and wealthy individuals which flourished in early nineteenth-century London". Leake's core interests were the modern Greek language, Greek topography and numismatics, but overall "one cannot overestimate Leake's importance as an observer of the state of Greece in the 19th century, and the value of his descriptions of the country" (Atabey). Surprisingly uncommon in commerce, particularly so in boards, the Atabey copy, in contemporary calf bound without the half-title, made 2500 hammer in 2002.

Confused? Read our glossary


Octavo. Original green cloth-backed drab boards, paper label to the spine.


Engraved frontispiece and 8 folding plates. Half-title bound in.


Boards somewhat rubbed and with some damp-staining at the top edges, spine sunned and the paper label chipped, pale browning to the text-block, occasional spotting, hinges carefully repaired, spine relined, but overall a very good copy, judiciously restored and well-preserved in the original boards.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book