Thomas More’s Utopia, first published in Latin in
1516, is one of the world’s most famous books. It has given us the adjective
‘Utopian’, a mode of thought (‘Utopianism’), a literary genre. Yet, at some
point in its 500-year history, the concept of ‘Utopia’ became detached from
More’s book. It came to express an ideal, which has its own legacy in the brand
names it inspires: there are cafes and a pdf reader named after More’s
imaginary land, a travel agent I used to cycle past on Leman Street, even a
barber’s shop in Ely.