Serious Money

Serious Money

Walking Plutocratic London


Brought to you by Penguin.

London is a plutocrat's paradise, with more resident billionaires than New York, Hong Kong or Moscow. Far from trickling down, their wealth is burning up the environment and swallowing up the city. But what do we really know about London's super rich, and the lives they lead?

To find out more about this secretive, security-heavy elite, sociologist Caroline Knowles walks the streets of London from the City to suburban Surrey, via Kensington, Notting Hill, Mayfair and elsewhere. Her walks reveal how the wealthy shape the capital in their image, creating a new world of gated communities and luxury developments. A move behind closed doors takes us ever further into the dark heart of the plutocratic city, from multimillion-pound mansions to high-end hotels and gentlemen's clubs. Along the way we meet a wide and wickedly entertaining cast of millionaires, billionaires and those who serve them: bankers, aristocrats, tech tycoons, Conservative party donors, butlers, bodyguards, divorce lawyers and many, many more.

By turns jaw-dropping, enraging and enlightening, Serious Money explodes the fiction that wealth is a condition to aspire to, revealing the isolation and paranoia which accompany it when the plutocrat's recompense - a life of unlimited luxury - ultimately proves hollow. It is a powerful reminder us that it is not just the super-rich who get to make the city: we make it too, and could demand something different. Because serious money is good for no one - not even the rich.

© Caroline Knowles 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022


  • Part guide, part indictment of a yawning wealth gap, Caroline Knowles's eye-opening book reveals how the capital has changed over the decades ... the author's gentle, yet shrewd observations quickly accumulate when seeking out a wide variety of individuals to reveal the quotidian culture of plutocracy.
    Misha Glenny, Financial Times

About the author

Caroline Knowles

Caroline Knowles is a Global Professorial Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. Currently the Director of the British Academy's Cities and Infrastructure programme, she has carried out research in London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Fuzhou, Addis Ababa, Kuwait City and Seoul. Knowles is the author of Flip-Flop: A Journey through Globalisation's Backroads, and co-author of Hong Kong: Migrant Lives, Landscapes and Journeys. Information about her latest book
can be found at
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