Literary Road Map of Islington

  • 25
  • May

Celebrate our borough's long, rich heritage of authors, screenwriters, poets and writers who live or work here

Literary Road Map of Islington celebrates our borough’s long, rich heritage of authors, screenwriters, poets and writers who have lived here, and the literary works which have been inspired by or set here.

Search the list below to see the novels, plays and poems which were written about Islington and the authors, such as Andrea Levy (1956-2019), who were born or lived in the borough, or Charles Dickens (1812-1870, who used various locations around Islington in their novels.

Also, look at our interactive map to see the literary connections to your area of Islington. To do this click on ‘Show Layers’, ‘Recreation & Leisure’ and check the ‘Literary Road Map’ box.

 

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  • Central and East

Ackerman, Len

In Their Footsteps (2014), And Now They Are Ghosts (2015) and No Place for Angels (2018). He was born in and grew up in Packington Street and has written three books, all set in Islington.

Adams, Douglas

1952-2001

Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy (1979) and other titles. Adams lived in Duncan Terrace and used the estate agent Hotblack Desiato’s name as a character. He also lived in a flat on Upper Street and sofa-surfed in a friend’s house in Arlington Avenue.

Adams, Richard

1920-2016

Watership Down (1974) and other titles. Adams lived and wrote at 26 St Paul’s Place from 1952-1974.

Bawden, Nina

1925-2012

The Ice House (1983) and other titles. The rail campaigner and children’s author lived in at 22 Noel Road and set The Ice House in Islington.

Beecham, Caroline

Maggie’s Kitchen (2016). The story follows the fortunes of Maggie Johnson as she sets up and runs a British Restaurant in Islington during WWII. It features many Islington locations including Upper Street, St Mary's Church, Duncan Street and Barnsbury Road.

Bowen, James

1979-

A Street Cat Named Bob (2012). The story of James and his cat Bob was set around Islington Green and Waterstones.

Betjeman, John

1906-1984

Summoned by Bells (1960). Betjeman mentions St Saviour’s Church on Aberdeen Park, which he used to attend. He also lived at 329 Holloway Road. New Bats in Old Belfries (1945), Summoned by Bells (1960) and other titles. Betjeman’s family ran a cabinet makers’ business, G. Betjemann & Sons, at 34–42 Pentonville Road.

Dickens, Charles

1812-1870

The Lamplighter (1854). Tom Grig’s new beat was “somewhere near Canonbury Tower … In a quiet part of town, where there were some queer old houses.” Oliver Twist (1837), Pickwick Papers (1836) and other titles. In Oliver Twist (1837), Oliver was introduced to pickpocketing by the Artful Dodger, and Mr Brownlow was pickpocketed by Fagin’s gang in Clerkenwell Green. Dicken’s serialised story in ‘Bentley’s Miscellany’ magazine, written under his pseudonym ‘Boz’, was adapted by the manager of Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Mr R Honner, and performed there in 1838. In Pickwick Papers (1836) Mr Pickwick lives at Goswell Street (now Goswell Road). Bleak House (1853), Our Mutual Friend (1864/5), Sketches by Boz, Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People (1836) and other titles. In Bleak House Inspector Bucket first picked up the trail of Honoria, Lady Dedlock “at the Archway Toll over at Highgate”. In his final work, ‘Our Mutual Friend’ Mr & Mrs Boffin’s house is situated by the dust heaps east of Maiden Lane and Reginald Wilfer’s “home was in the Holloway region north of London, and then divided from it by fields and trees”. Dickens describes the May Day revelries and walking around Maiden Lane (now York Way) in 'First of May', one of the short stories in 'Sketches by Boz'.

Eliot, T.S.

1888-1965

Four Quartets 1: Burnt Norton, III (1941). Eliot refers to Clerkenwell as one of “The gloomy hills of London, Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney, Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate.” In The Wasteland (1922) Eliot wrote “highbury bore me..’ in the second draft of the poem. His first wife, Vivian, edited it out of the third and final draft.

Gaiman, Neil

1960-

Neverwhere (1996). In the story ‘Islington’ is a fallen angel who lives under London.

Goldsmith, Oliver

1728-1774

The Good-Natur’d Man (1768), She Stoops to Conquer (1771) and other titles. The writer lived in Canonbury Tower from 1762-64.

Greenaway, Kate

1846-1901

Under the Window (1879) and other titles. The children’s book writer and illustrator lived at 147 Upper Street and 11 Pemberton Gardens.