June 1846. As London swelters in a heatwave - sunstroke strikes, meat rots, ice is coveted - a glamorous coterie of writers and artists spend their summer wining, dining and opining.

With the ringletted 'face of an Egyptian cat goddess', Elizabeth Barrett is courted by her secret fiance, the poet Robert Browning, who plots their elopement to Italy; Keats roams Hampstead Heath; Wordsworth visits the zoo; Dickens is intrigued by Tom Thumb; the Carlyles host parties for a visiting German novelist and suffer a marital crisis. But when the visionary painter Benjamin Robert Haydon commits suicide, they find their entwined lives spiralling around the tragedy . . .

One of the first-ever group biographies, Alethea Hayter's glorious A Sultry Month is a lively mosaic of archival riches inspired by the collages of the Pop Artists. A groundbreaking feat of creative non-fiction in 1965, her portrait of Victorian London's literati is just as vivid, witty and enticing today.