Ankh-Morpork is a fictional city-state which features prominently in
Discworld fantasy novels.
2.1 The River Ankh
4.1 City Leadership
4.2 Current "important" city figures
5.2 Law Enforcement
5.3 Government revival
5.3.1 City Watch
5.3.2 Post Office
7 Notable locations
8 Civic symbols
8.1 Coat of Arms
9 Public holidays
10 Real-world connections
14 External links
Pratchett describes this biggest city of
Discworld as on the far side
of corrupt and polluted, and as subject to outbreaks of comedic
violence and brouhaha on a fairly regular basis.
Ankh-Morpork is also
the mercantile capital of the Discworld. As the series proceeds,
Ankh-Morpork is more and more portrayed as multi-cultural (which in
this case means multi-species, with increasingly prominent populations
of creatures such as dwarves, trolls, vampires, gnomes, bogeymen,
zombies and werewolves but also means humans of other nationalities
such as Aegateans, Klatchians and Omnians) and struggling with modern
real-world challenges. Even when it is under attack from a dragon, the
vegetable carts still have to come in.
Tallinn, one of the real-life prototypes of Ankh-Morpork
In The Art of
Discworld Pratchett explains that the city is similar to
Tallinn and central Prague, but adds that it has elements of
18th-century London, 19th-century
Seattle and modern New York City. He
also states that since the creation of The Streets of Ankh-Morpork, he
has tried to ensure that the descriptions of character movements and
locations in the books match the
Ankh-Morpork map; this has allowed
him, and fans of the series, to visualise the story more clearly.
Ankh-Morpork is also referred to as "The Great [or Big] Wahoonie" on
occasions, alluding to "The Great Wen" (London), or to "The Big Apple"
(New York). It is stated in the novel Moving Pictures that "There's a
saying that all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork. And it's wrong. All roads
lead away from Ankh-Morpork, but sometimes people walk along them the
wrong way." There are also strong parallels with the political
structure, economy, social structure, topography and history of the
Florence during the Renaissance.
Ankh-Morpork lies on the River Ankh (the most polluted waterway on the
Discworld and reputedly solid enough to walk on), where the fertile
loam of the Sto Plains (similar to Western Europe) meets the Circle
Sea (the Discworld's version of the Mediterranean). This, naturally,
puts it in an excellent trading position.
Lying approximately equidistant from the cold Hub and tropical Rim,
Ankh-Morpork is in the Discworld's equivalent of the temperate zone.
The name "Ankh-Morpork" refers to both the city itself, a walled city
about five miles (8 km) across, and the surrounding suburbs and
farms of its fiefdom.
The central city divides more or less into the more affluent Ankh and
the poorer Morpork which includes the slum-like "Shades", which are
separated by the River Ankh.
Ankh-Morpork is built on black loam, broadly, but is mostly built on
itself; pragmatic citizens simply built on top of the existing
buildings when the sediment grew too high as the river flooded, rather
than excavate them out. There are many unknown basements, including an
entire "cave network" below
Ankh-Morpork made up of old streets and
abandoned sewers (it has been continuously stated that anyone with a
pickaxe and a good sense of direction could reach anywhere in
Ankh-Morpork by knocking walls down in a straight line, though in
Thud! it is added that they would also need to breathe mud). Recently,
the underground regions have been extended by the city's dwarf
population to get around unimpeded. It has recently been made
Ankh-Morpork is also the city with the most dwarfs on the whole disc
outside of Überwald, largely considered the dwarfen homeland, with
over 50,000 dwarfs living there (The Truth, The Fifth Elephant).
The River Ankh
The Ankh parodies the Thames during the 18th and 19th century, as both
were unhealthy and polluted. Such parody is also evident in maps of
Ankh-Morpork, which clearly show the River Ankh with the famous Thames
meander around London's Isle Of Dogs. The naming of the river is an
ironic pun, as the word 'Ankh' (☥) is the Ancient Egyptian symbol
for life - therefore it is the River of Life, the antithesis of its
actual appearance (although the citizens sometimes attest that 'Water
that can support so many little squirmy things must be healthy!').
Even before it enters Ankh-Morpork, the River Ankh is full of silt
from the plains; by the time it gets to the seaward side of the city,
"even an agnostic could walk across it" (although in The Truth, Arnold
Sideways plays it safe by distributing his weight over boards).
The citizens of the city are strangely proud of this fact, even going
so far as to say that "it is easier to suffocate than drown in the
Ankh." They also claim it to be the purest water on the Disc, as
"Anything that's passed through so many kidneys has to be very pure
indeed." (A reference to the saying that
London tap-water is allegedly
filtered by seven sets of kidneys). Owing to the build-up of
centuries, the bed of the river is higher than some parts of the city.
When winter snows swell the flow, the low-rent areas of Morpork flood.
In spring some parts of the river catch fire, others sprout small
trees and also the spray of the Ankh turns into a shade of green.
Wading birds are apparently uncommon, as their legs would be eaten
away by the pollution. Fish are known to exist and are described as
looking like vacuum cleaners, and explode when brought to clean water.
There are a lot of microorganisms living in the river, which Mustrum
Ridcully believed was proof that the water was safe to drink - as
anything capable of supporting that much life had to be healthy.
The river has also prevented barbarian invasion, as "any invasion
fleet would have to be preceded by a gang of men wielding shovels." A
monument stands in the city in memory of an occasion when an invasion
attempt failed when the invaders' nose plugs gave out. A magic horn in
the Patrician's Palace is said to blow itself in warning. When the
city catches fire, the river gates are closed, and the river rises and
smothers the flames. This also destroys any buildings hitherto
Men At Arms and the computer game
Discworld Noir, the Ankh is
described as "the only river in the world on which you could draw a
According to legend, the first city of
Ankh-Morpork was founded
thousands of years ago by twin brothers who were raised by a
hippopotamus (an allusion to the myth of Romulus and Remus, with a
hippo replacing the original wolf). It is in memory of this that the
hippo is the royal animal of Ankh. One legend has it that if danger
ever threatens the city, the eight stone hippopotamoi guarding the
Brass Bridge will come to life and run away. Another legend claims
that many centuries ago, the Disc flooded. An ark was constructed,
containing two of every animal. When the accumulated dung of forty
days and nights was dropped over the side, they called it
The original city was little more than a walled keep, surrounding the
Tower of Art, a building of mysterious origin which may even predate
the Disc itself.
At one point it had an empire, similar to the Roman Empire, that
covered half the continent including the neighbouring country of
Klatch. These were the days of the "Pax Morporkia," another reference
to Rome and their Pax Romana.
The empire was largely the creation of
General Tacticus (a pun on both
"tactics" and the name of the real-world historian Tacitus), the
greatest military mind in history. Tacticus refused to accept that the
Empire was growing too big to control, and was finally shipped off to
be king of Genua. As king he decided that the greatest threat to Genua
was the Empire, and declared war on it (a probable reference to Jean
Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, who served under the Emperor Napoleon but
later, as King of Sweden, allied with France's enemies, and other
similar episodes in history).
This was a Golden Age, ruled by the Kings of Ankh, who are recalled in
legend as wise, noble and fair. The line died out approximately 2000
years before the present, giving way to real kings who were
realistically corrupt and perverse and ultimately leading to the
collapse of the empire. (This could be seen as a parody of the
fictional city of Minas Tirith, which also had a "Golden Age" many
years before, with Kings who were remembered as being noble and
wise.)[dubious – discuss]
Shortly before this, however, the mage Alberto Malich had founded
Unseen University (UU) in the Tower of Art, and
as a service town for the wizards.
Royalty became extremely debased and the later kings of Ankh-Morpork
are recalled in history as power-mad and corrupt, or just mad; some
are mentioned by name in Men at Arms:
Queen Alguinna IV
King Artorollo (a contemporary of Alberto Malich)
King Cirone IV
King Loyala the Aaargh (Had a 1.13 second rule from coronation to
assassination) - The
King Ludwig the Tree (Known to issue royal proclamations on the need
to develop a new type of frog and similar important matters, and also
responsible for the city motto Quanti Canicula Ille In Fenestra-"How
much is that doggie in the window?") - The
King Tyrril (ruled circa AM 907)
King Veltrick III
Webblethorpe the Unconscious
The last and worst - the euphemistically remembered Lorenzo the Kind
(the full extent of whose infamy is not explicitly revealed, save that
he was said to be "very fond of children", possessed "secret rooms"
from which "bits" had to be cleaned, and had in his dungeons "machines
for . . .") - was overthrown in the
Ankh-Morpork Civil War of 1688
(dating from the founding of UU). The question of what to do with the
deposed king (no judge would try him) was settled when he was executed
by the then Commander of the City Watch, Suffer-Not-Injustice Vimes.
Known as "Old Stoneface," his regicide resulted in his being banned
from bearing arms (These events parallel the
English Civil War
English Civil War of the
1640s, and the execution of Charles I by Oliver Cromwell). Afterwards
"Old Stoneface" (an ancestor of the current City Watch Commander
Samuel Vimes and a play on Cromwell's nickname "Old Ironside") and his
Ironheads (a play on "Ironsides" and "Roundheads") attempted to
introduce democracy, but the people voted against it. After "Old
Stoneface" himself was overthrown,
Ankh-Morpork reverted to a
non-hereditary oligarchic system, where the leaders are still ruthless
tyrants, but don't have the audacity to invoke divine right. It is,
however, rumoured that the royal blood line of the Kings of Ankh has
not in fact died out but instead continued, and that the true king,
Carrot Ironfoundersson, walks the streets of the city on a nightly
basis. The Patrician rules the city, and operates a specialised form
of "One Man, One Vote" democracy: the Patrician is the Man, and he has
Past Patricians, many of them oppressive despots and fairly often mad,
Deranged Lord Harmoni
Laughing Lord Scapula
Frenzied Earl Hargath
Nersh the Lunatic
Giggling Lord Smince
Homicidal Lord Winder
Mad Lord Snapcase
The reign of Winder was marked by a greater-than-norm amount of
oppression and political violence, as detailed in Night Watch, causing
a popular revolt centred in Treacle Mine Road. The City Guilds had him
assassinated and replaced with Lord Snapcase, who himself turned out
to be a greater tyrant and was eventually replaced with Havelock
When Vetinari inherited the city, it was a corrupt, crumbling medieval
city, as shown in The Colour of Magic. This was gradually turned
around, first with an overhaul of the Guild system - such as
legalising the Guild of Thieves and leaving them responsible for
stopping 'unlicensed' thefts (i.e. any non-Guild thief is not
permitted to operate in the city) - and then by opening the city to
immigration. Dwarfs, trolls, gnomes, humans from across the Disc, and
even the undead immigrated in large numbers, making
truly multicultural society, with both the advantages and problems
that suggests. (The current Patrician's own, typically pragmatic, view
on multiculturalism is "
Alloys are stronger.") With the new stability
and skill base, the city has become the mercantile and political
capital of the Discworld, so much so that the Sto Plains operates
under a new Pax Morporkia, which operates not on the principle of "If
you fight, we will kill you," but on the principle of "If you fight,
we will call in your mortgages."
Mime artists are strictly forbidden. Anyone caught practising the art
is hung upside-down in a scorpion pit, upon the walls of which is
written: "Learn the words." This is the only overt sign of tyranny
Ankh-Morpork has evolved in the series. While it still has corruption
(mostly organised in guilds), it is far from crumbling by Going Postal
and has become a high-tech (for the Disc) city-state bordering on
almost steampunk levels of technology. The city is indeed the 2nd most
developed nation of the disc after the Agatean Empire. Ankh-Morpork
has seen the appearance of
Fire insurance (this may cause more harm than good as people burn down
their own houses), first seen in The Colour of Magic.
A competent police force, first seen in
Guards! Guards! and developing
The clacks, a semaphore system used to send what amount to telegrams
(see Semaphore line), first seen in The Fifth Elephant.
A real newspaper, first seen in The Truth.
The Post Office, or rather its resurgence, along with the first
stamps, first seen in Going Postal.
Stamps and paper money as introduced by
Moist von Lipwig
Moist von Lipwig in Going
Making Money respectively.
A railway, as seen in Raising Steam.
Crime is kept in check by the Watch and the guilds, mainly the
Thieves' Guild; in the novel Jingo a character casually notes the
Thieves' Guild weathervane is an actual unofficial and currently
Lord Vetinari has a firm grip on the city (or seems
to). The wizards of UU no longer murder each other intentionally. The
city is now a highly advanced metropolis rather than the fading,
broken-down city of The Colour of Magic. It is implied that the Axle
Thud! will revolutionise both municipal transportation
(with many references which parallel the
London Underground including
the minesign symbol for a mine) and machinery, and Moist von Lipwig's
invention of the banknote in Making Money.
The succession of the Patrician occurs normally by either
assassination or revolution. Patricians have been known to resign, but
this is very much the exception.
Power is, to some degree, shared with the many Guilds (see above) and
the surviving nobility. They form a sort of advisory city council, but
the Patrician has the only vote at meetings. This may be the same as
the "council of aldermen" referred to briefly in Sourcery, and called
the city council in "Guards Guards", but never mentioned since.
The current office-holder is the Medici-inspired Lord Havelock
Vetinari, a former student at the Assassins' Guild.
The nearest surviving relative of the former royal family seems to be
Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson, technically a human, but fundamentally
a dwarf (or vice versa depending on point-of-view). However, he has
gone to some effort to keep his royal connections as quiet as
possible. The origin of Corporal Cecil Wormsborough St. John (Nobby)
Nobbs remains shrouded in mystery. At one point he was identified as
being a descendant of de Nobbes, the Earl of Ankh (and therefore the
next in line), but this was (probably) a deliberate deception as part
of a plot to overthrow Lord Vetenari.
The Patrician has almost absolute power over the affairs of the city
and works together with the leaders of the city's Guilds, who elect
him through the Guild Council, as shown in The Truth. In an analogy of
Ankh-Morpork is an oligarchy. Eligible for
election are members of rich and influential families.
Vetinari appears rather more permanent than most patricians, largely
due to his Machiavellian ("for a given value of Machiavelli",
according to Terry Pratchett) machinations. He has arranged the
politics of the city in such a way that to remove him from office
would cause chaos among the Guilds and nobility. He firmly believes
that what people really want is stability, and that is what he
Current "important" city figures
Although Vetinari is the absolute leader of the city, he has been able
to give some people the illusion that they have some power:
Mustrum Ridcully, archchancellor of the wizard college Unseen
University, who serves as the de facto advisor to the Patrician on
His Grace, Sir Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh, Commander of the City Watch
and married to Lady Sybil. (Also ex-blackboard monitor (Mentioned in
The Fifth Elephant, Thud!)).
Lord Downey, head of the Assassins' Guild.
Mr Boggis, head of the Guild of Thieves, Cutpurses, Housebreakers, and
Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson, Captain of the City Watch.
Moist von Lipwig, former con-man, now Postmaster, Head of the Mint,
owner of the Chairman of the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork.
Rosemary Palm, head of the Guild of Seamstresses.
Queen Molly, head of the Beggars' Guild.
Hughnon Ridcully, Chief Priest of
Blind Io and de facto leader of the
city's varied clergy as well as brother to the aforesaid Mustrum
Lord Rust, a military leader whose pompous attitude usually leads him
to bungle whatever situation he is placed into as in Jingo and Night
Watch as well as Monstrous Regiment. Generally opposes and is opposed
by Samuel Vimes.
Lord Selachii and Lord Venturi have slightly smaller roles than Lord
Rust and are usually depicted in similar scenarios to Lord Rust.
Mr Slant, the zombie head of the Lawyer's Guild.
Leonard of Quirm, the Disc's premier engineer and creator of
inventions which act as a catalyst in some novels, e.g. Men at Arms
and The Last Hero.
It should be pointed out that traditionally the relationship between
the city and
Unseen University is one of mutual cooperation, in which
it is stated that the University agrees to do anything asked of them
and the city promises to never ask, and it is possibly the only place
where the Patrician's influence is reduced. For example, the city has
never taxed the university ("A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish
Devices"). According to Interesting Times, the Patrician can, in
theory, have the Archchancellor summoned and, indeed, have him
executed; however, the Archchancellor could turn the Patrician into a
small reptile and, indeed, start bouncing around the room on a pogo
The primary engines of Ankh-Morpork's economy are the guilds. There
are hundreds of guilds, for every conceivable profession, from clowns
to butchers, and each has its own strictly maintained laws and trading
practices. Many guilds have assumed roles which in real-world cities
would be assumed by government agencies.
Ankh-Morpork does not appear to have anything approaching a state
education system, the primary means of education is the vocational
training imparted by the guilds to their young members. Foundlings
are, for instance, often dropped at the doorsteps of guilds in the
hopes of their learning a useful trade. The Assassins' Guild is
considered the top educational establishment on the Disc and, whether
one intends to be an assassin or not, is considered the school of
choice for young aristocrats such as the future Lord Vetinari. It is
possible to attend the Assassins' Guild simply for the learning and
not the slaying; though many of course choose to do both. Many
children from poorer backgrounds are educated at dame schools, similar
to the institutions in
Victorian England of the same name; Sideney (in
Samuel Vimes (in Thud!) were educated at dame schools.
Others attend boarding schools outside Ankh-Morpork, such as the Quirm
College for Young Ladies. A Teachers' Guild exists, but appears to be
of low status—in
Guards! Guards! Vimes' seating position in the
coronation scene is described as "in the lowest tier…between the
Master of the Fellowship of Beggars and the head of the Teachers'
Guild". This is most probably a joke based on the international belief
that teachers are lowly ranked and paid.
Ankh-Morpork's main institution of higher education is Unseen
University, the principal school of wizardry on the Disc.
The laws and protections offered by the guilds are the city's main
form of personal security. The most obvious example of this is the
Thieves' Guild, which, by regulating the crime trade, acts as the
city's main law enforcement agency; however, many of the guilds also
have private enforcers, such as the Agony Aunts for the Seamstresses'
Guild and the Bloody Fools for the Fools' Guild.
At its most basic level, law in
Ankh-Morpork operates on the principle
that a grocer is free to mix soil in his coffee, and also to be
vivisected by any customer who happens to find out. Other than that,
options are slim. In cases of personal grievance, one might make an
appeal to the Guild of Lawyers, providing, of course, one is wealthy
enough to pay (The Lawyers' Guild consider this a very reasonable
arrangement, as the poor are inveterately criminal anyway). Barring
that, the only course of action in criminal cases is a direct appeal
to the Patrician, which frequently works, as he sees such a result as
Despite evidence to the contrary, murder is not a commonplace
occurrence in Ankh-Morpork; there are, of course, assassinations, but
as these are guild sanctioned they are not deemed to be against the
Ankh-Morpork does, however, have an extraordinarily high suicide
rate, due mainly to the city's view on what constitutes suicide. For
example, walking alone through the night-time alleyways of the Shades
is suicide, as is asking for a short in a dwarf bar. It is very easy
to commit suicide in
Ankh-Morpork if you are not careful.
Outside the guilds, most law enforcement is undertaken by the Watch,
under the leadership of Sam Vimes.
Lord Vetinari has begun to reassert the power of the state
by reintroducing formerly decrepit government agencies such as the
City Watch, the Post Office, and most recently, the Royal Mint.
Ankh-Morpork City Watch
The City Watch is one of the greatest success stories. In the
beginning, it consisted of the Day Watch, popinjays headed by Captain
"Mayonnaise" Quirke (rich, thick, oily, and smelling slightly of eggs)
and the Night Watch, three unemployable men; then-Captain Vimes, who
was a drunk, Sergeant Colon, whose idea of major crime would be the
theft of a bridge and Corporal Nobbs, who has a certificate to prove
that he's human. The addition of Lance-Constable Carrot was the
catalyst for their reformation over the course of the novel Guards!
Guards! Over the course of time, the Watch has grown under the
leadership of Commander
Samuel Vimes to the most modern police force
on the Disc. Which still employs the three men in question.
Ankh-Morpork Post Office, which was once a vibrant, relevant
institution complete with gleaming wooden counters and polished brass,
staffed by postmen in spiffy blue uniforms, languished and almost
died, according to Mr Tolliver Groat (Junior Postman, later Senior
Postman and Postal Inspector), when postmen began to leave half a sack
of post behind in order to get home on time. The next day they left
another half sack, reasoning they could do it on their day off, by
which point too much mail had built up and so much was still left
behind. However this was only a minor part of the problem.
The amount of undelivered mail was dramatically increased by the
Sorting Engine, created by Bloody Stupid Johnson. This machine was
intended to speed up postal delivery, but instead began to produce
mail, first from the future (which was fine, because that was seen as
really improving delivery times) and then from alternate universes.
The reason for this was that Johnson disapproved of pi, and had
therefore based the engine around a non-Euclidean wheel, on which the
radius divided into the circumference exactly three times, thereby
creating an area of dimensional instability. It was impossible to
deliver all the letters, and most of them couldn't be delivered, as
they hadn't been sent in this universe.
The Post Office was reduced to a massive building crammed floor to
ceiling with undelivered letters and staffed solely by geriatric
Postman Groat, along with his pin-collecting companion Stanley.
By the time of
Going Postal it had long been forgotten, the building
daubed with graffiti, the mail coaches appropriated for passenger
travel by the coachmen and its services rendered apparently useless by
the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company.
Lord Vetinari then appointed Moist
von Lipwig, a former con-man, to restore the Post Office as a means of
curtailing the power of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company. With Lipwig
as Postmaster-General, the Post Office was restored to something
approaching its former glory. Lipwig invented the postage stamp,
giving a new hobby to young men like Stanley who were formerly
obsessed with pin collecting. With the craze of variously priced,
flavoured stamps taking off, Lipwig went on to restore mail coach
services to such towns as Sto Lat and Genua. As the clacks lines
became less reliable, the Post Office became stiff competition for
semaphore. Ultimately, Lipwig succeeded in bringing down Reacher Gilt,
chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, by using a well placed
lie and thus restored the Post Office's supremacy in delivering
Lord Vetinari then handed the Grand Trunk company
over to Moist, who planned to give it back to the Dearheart family,
from whom it was unjustly taken.
The motto of the
Ankh-Morpork Post Office is displayed on the front of
the building, and for some years read "NEITHER RAIN NOR SNOW NOR GL OM
OF NI T CAN STAY THESE MES ENGERS ABO T THEIR DUTY." Following Mr
Lipwig's appointment, the missing letters were located on and, by the
use of a promise not to bring any charges and the use of no violence
at all by an 8-foot-high (2.4 m) golem wielding a huge crowbar,
recovered from the frontage of the hairdresser's 'HUGOS', allowing the
motto to be restored to its correct spelling. By a strange
coincidence, the motto is very similar to the motto of another Post
Office in the Multiverse. During the Post Office's decline, a list of
things that would, in fact, stay these messengers, was displayed on a
notice board below the motto. The most notable is Mrs. Cake, listed
twice. Mrs. Cake is not to be asked about.
The AM$ (
Ankh-Morpork dollar) is equal to 100 pennies (pence). Under
Ankh-Morporkian tradition, ten pence can be referred to as a shilling,
twenty-five pence as half a ton, and fifty pence as a nob/a ton/half a
The AM$ is reputedly the hardest currency outside of the Agatean
Empire. A dollar coin is
Sequin (coin) sized, and although
theoretically made of gold the metal has been adulterated so many
times that, according to The
"There is more gold in an equivalent weight of seawater. In a sense,
Ankh-Morpork is on the gold standard in all respects except the
one of actually having any gold to speak of"
Ankh-Morpork being an extremely rich city state, the AM$ is the
currency of choice amongst the lands around the Circle Sea; although
other city states have their own currencies, they maintain strong
links with the dollar, as
Ankh-Morpork is the only place which has
anything worth buying.
In Making Money,
Moist von Lipwig
Moist von Lipwig introduces paper currency and puts
the city on the golem standard.
Biers is a pub frequented by creatures of the night, usually lumped
together as "undead", though they can include werewolves and bogeymen.
Difficult to find, unless you happen to be "the right sort." It is
often compared to
Cheers but with the tagline "Where everybody knows
Susan Sto Helit
Susan Sto Helit is a noted frequenter of Biers. The more
typical clientele occasionally loudly demand to know what she thinks
she's doing there. They seldom do so twice. The barman of Biers is
named Igor, though he doesn't appear to be an Igor. It's best to eye
what he serves carefully; as Pratchett noted in Hogfather, "When Igor
the barman was asked for a Bloody Mary, he didn't mix a metaphor." At
some point in the past, the pub was known as The Crown and Axe; a
nearly-blind old regular, Mrs. Gammage, still frequents the place,
mistaking the undead staff and clientele for the previous inhabitants,
none of them having the heart to gainsay her.
The Dwarf Bread Museum which, as its name suggests, is a building
where certain articles of the (in)famous dwarf bread are kept; usually
specimens of a cultural or historical importance. First mentioned in
Men at Arms; more prominently featured in
The Fifth Elephant
The Fifth Elephant as the
building from which the Scone of Stone (a reference to the Stone of
Scone) is stolen.
The Dysk, a theatre staging "usurper-killing-a-king dramas". A
reference to the Globe Theatre.
The Mended Drum, formerly the Broken Drum (old motto: "You can't beat
it") until it burned down in the city's first attempt at insurance
fraud, is the city's principal inn. Located on Filigree Street, it is
a rowdy, cloudy, crowded, smelly and utterly disreputable
establishment, and therefore the ideal haunt for the Disc's plethora
of heroes. It is a favourite watering hole for the students of Unseen
University, and regular haunt of the Librarian. It is also a favoured
locale for those wishing to discuss business of a clandestine nature.
The Broken Drum is the setting for the first meeting between the
Twoflower in the first Discworld
novel, Colour of Magic. When
Ankh-Morpork became more civilized in the
later books, The Mended Drum (new motto: "You can get beaten") was the
last bastion of lawlessness although the bar fights have become a team
sport, with teams getting points for performing classic brawling
techniques. Limbs are still chopped off, but they are tattooed to
ensure that Igor sews them back correctly. Curiously, this romantic
disreputable place is what
Twoflower sought naïvely in Colour of
The Shades, Ankh-Morpork's slum district, comprise the oldest region
of the city. The moral equivalent of a black hole. A pretty nasty
place, all told (a horse in the Shades is often called "lunch", and
nothing is seen as more suspicious than fresh paint).
Cockbill Street, located in the Shades, is the poorest area of the
city. Despite this, people on Cockbill Street are so proud that they
refuse to acknowledge this, believing eating comes second to keeping
up appearances and leading to the saying that what you mostly ate on
Cockbill Street "was your pride".
Samuel Vimes was raised here. The
residents go through life trying mostly to go unnoticed, this is best
evidenced by the fact that Captain Carrot, who otherwise is on
first-name terms with the entire population of the city, does not know
any of the residents, to Samuel Vimes' amazement.
The Isle of Gods, an area almost encircled by the river Ankh
containing the Watch-house, the theatres, the prison and the
publishers. A reference to the
Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs area of London.
Pseudopolis Yard, the headquarters of the City Watch. Owned by Lady
Sybil Ramkin (later Lady Vimes) and donated by her when the
Dragon-King burned down the Watch House. A reference to Scotland Yard.
Unseen University (UU) is in many ways the city's core. Centred on the
800-foot Tower of Art, the tallest building on the Disc, it serves as
the Sto Plains' (and possibly the entire Discworld's) premier magic
academy. The city originally grew out of the need to service and
maintain the University. The Shades technically fall under its
dominion, and much of its income is derived from rents there.
Coat of Arms
The arms of the city would be described by blazon:
Per bend sinister and per pale; first vert, semy of cabbages proper;
second and third argent, a money bag Or; fourth sable; overall three
scarps wavy azure surmounted by the
Tower of Art
Tower of Art issuant from base and
terminating in chief proper. For crest an owl displayed bearing the
shield of the
Unseen University proper, and clutching in its talons an
ankh Or. For supporters two hippos proper, the dexter gorged by a
chain and the sinister by a coronet Or.
Morporkia is a female personification of the city, or possibly only of
Morpork. She wears a cabbage-spangled cloak and an old-fashioned
helmet, carrying a shield with the civic coat of arms and a
toasting-fork symbolising "something or other" (compare Britannia,
One of Ankh-Morpork's symbols.
A pair of hippopotami are also symbols of the city, and flank its coat
of arms. There are also statues of hippos on the Brass Bridge; it is
said that should danger threaten the city, they will run away.
We Can Rule You Wholesale is the national anthem of Ankh-Morpork; it
is a parody of the song 'Rule, Britannia!'. The use of 'ner ner ner'
as official lyrics (see below) is also heavily reminiscent of the
English football anthem, 'Vindaloo'.
It was not written by a native Ankh-Morporkian, but by the visiting
Count Henrik Shline von Überwald (born 1703, died 1782, also
died 1784, 1788, 1791, 1802, 1804, 1807, 1808, 1821, 1830, 1861,
finally staked 1872). His inspiration came from his observations that
Ankh-Morpork's chief means of defence was not warfare but corruption,
bribery and mercantile tactics, since most of the weapons used against
the city were actually made there in the first place.
The anthem is particularly noteworthy for being the only one that has
a second verse officially consisting of incoherent muttering. Count
von Überwald had also observed that any group of people singing their
country's national anthem never remembers how the second verse goes
anyway, so he decided to make things easier for Ankh-Morpork. The
anthem's sentiments are of course summarised in the new Pax Morporkia:
"If you fight, we'll call in your mortgages. And incidentally that's
my pike you're pointing at me. I paid for that shield you're holding.
And take my helmet off when you speak to me, you horrible little
On formal occasions, the anthem is supposed to be performed by a large
soprano singer wearing a sheet and holding a torch in one hand and a
fork in the other.
The lyrics of the anthem are as follows:
"When dragons belch and hippos flee
My thoughts, Ankh-Morpork, are of thee
Let others boast of martial dash
For we have boldly fought with cash
We own all your helmets, we own all your shoes.
We own all your generals - touch us and you'll lose.
Morporkia owns the day!
We can rule you wholesale
Touch us and you'll pay.
We bankrupt all invaders,
We sell them souvenirs,
We ner ner ner ner ner ner by the ears,
Er ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner,
Ner ner ner ner ner ner, ner ner ner ner ner,
Ner your gleaming swords, we mortgaged to the hilt.
Ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner
We can rule you wholesale
Credit where it's due."
The final part of the anthem is usually sung much louder than the rest
of the second verse, since the singers want to show they know the
The anthem was actually written in 1999 by Pratchett (words) and Carl
Davis (music), for the
BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3 programme The Music Machine. It was
performed by the
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the soprano was
Claire Rutter. It was also performed at that year's Proms by the
Prommers' Orchestra and Chorus. The anthem is performed on the organ
before the premiere of Blown Away in Moving Pictures and sung before a
football match in the 2009 novel Unseen Academicals.
Hogswatch Day (New Year, Christmas)
The Creator's birthday (in reality Terry Pratchett's birthday)
May Day (also called May Blossom Day)
The Twenty-Fifth Of May (commemorates the last Ankh-Morpork
revolution, but only if you participated)
Patrician's Day (in reality Stephen Briggs' birthday)
The first Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after the last half moon in
Soul Cake Days
Ankh-Morpork was twinned with the town of
Wincanton in Somerset, in
the south-west United Kingdom on the spherical planet
Earth (known in
Discworld books as Roundworld) on 7 December 2002. The town is
home to a shop called "The
Discworld Emporium". However, due to
legal reasons, the twinning was not officially displayed on the road
sign. Fans, however, added stick-on notices to some of the signs.
This has now been changed and a new town sign prominently declaring
the twinning with
Ankh-Morpork and other
Roundworld places has been
erected. This sign was designed by the Cunning Artificer himself,
Bernard Pearson (of the
Discworld Emporium). Several streets in a new
housing development in
Wincanton have been named after Ankh-Morpork
Streets, including Peach Pie Street and Treacle Mine Road.
The town sign of Wincanton.
The word "Morpork" is from a type of New Zealand owl called the
morepork, which is depicted holding the ankh on the coat of arms.
Ankh-Morpork pub, mentioned several times in the novel Jingo is
similar in many respects to the well known pub Whitelocks in Leeds,
England. The pub, reputed to be the oldest in the city, was originally
known as "The Turk's Head".
"Discworld: Ankh-Morpork" was published as a board game in 2011.
Many details of
Ankh-Morpork appear to have been inspired by Fritz
Leiber's fictional city
Lankhmar (although Pratchett has said "I
didn't -- at least consciously, I suppose I must say -- create
Ankh-Morpork as a takeoff of Lankhmar");
John D. Rateliff notes
that Leiber's characters "the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd guest-star in the
Discworld story, The Colour of Magic, under the pseudonyms
of The Weasel and Bravd".
^ Pratchett, Terry (1997). The
Discworld Companion. Great Britain:
Vista. pp. 105–6. ISBN 0-575-60030-6.
^ "Pratchett city twins with real town", BBC News, 6 December 2002.
^ "Row over fictional twin town", BBC News, 19 June 2003.
^ "Roads named after
Discworld books", BBC News, 5 April 2009.
^ "The Colour of Magic", The Annotated Pratchett Website.
Pratchett, Terry (1983). The Colour of Magic. Colin Smythe.
Pratchett, Terry (1989). Guards! Guards!. Gollancz.
Pratchett, Terry & Briggs, Stephen (1993). The Streets of
Pratchett, Terry (1993). Men At Arms. Gollancz.
Pratchett, Terry (1996). Feet of Clay. Gollancz.
Pratchett, Terry (1997). Jingo. Gollancz.
Pratchett, Terry (2000). The Truth. Gollancz.
Pratchett, Terry (2002). Night Watch. Gollancz.
Pratchett, Terry & Briggs, Stephen (2003). The
(3rd ed.). Gollancz.
Pratchett, Terry & Pearson, Bernard (2004). The
Pratchett, Terry & Kidby, Paul (2004). The Art of Discworld
ISBN 0-575-07511-2. Gollancz.
Pratchett, Terry (2004). Going Postal. Doubleday.
Pratchett, Terry (2005). Thud!. Doubleday.
Pratchett, Terry & June (2007). Making Money. Corgi.
Discworld & Pratchett Wiki
The L-Space Web, possibly the definitive
Discworld web site
Ankh-Morpork Anthem, performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Terry Pratchett's Discworld
The Colour of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Last Continent
The Fifth Elephant
Thief of Time
The Last Hero
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
The Wee Free Men
A Hat Full of Sky
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Shepherd's Crown
"Theatre of Cruelty"
"The Sea and Little Fishes"
"Death and What Comes Next"
"A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices"
A Blink of the Screen (anthology)
The Science of Discworld
The Science of
Discworld II: The Globe
The Science of
Discworld III: Darwin's Watch
The Science of
Discworld IV: Judgement Day
The Pratchett Portfolio
The Art of Discworld
Unseen University Challenge
The Wyrdest Link
The Streets of Ankh-Morpork
A Tourist Guide to Lancre
Nanny Ogg's Cookbook
Where's My Cow?
Unseen University Cut Out Book
Once More* with Footnotes
The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld
The Folklore of Discworld
The World of Poo
The Compleat Ankh-Morpork: City Guide
The Colour of Magic
Guards! Guards! A
The Witches: A
Discworld board game
Films and TV series
Welcome to the Discworld
The Colour of Magic
Moist von Lipwig
Susan Sto Helit
Races and creatures
Nac Mac Feegle
Flora and fauna of the Discworld
Technology of the Discworld
Religions of the Discworld
Games of the Discworld