Literary Road Map of Islington

  • 29
  • Jun

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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  • Fiction

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.

Browne, Eileen

Handa series (1995-) The author and illustrator lived at 62 Hanley Road from 1976-1994, where she wrote and illustrated Handa’s Surprise.

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.

Blackman, Andrew

1965-

On the Holloway Road (2009). Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the novel is set over one windy night on Holloway Road.

Blackmore, R.D.

1825-1900

Lorna Doone (1869), The Remarkable History of Sir Thomas Upmore, Formerly Known as Tommy Upmore (1884) and other titles. The author’s diary for 1855 has him regularly walking to his chambers in the Temple via Maiden Lane (now York Way). ‘Tommy Upmore’ was also partly set in Maiden Lane.

Bunyan, John

1628-1688

The Pilgrims’ Progress (1678) and other titles. The writer, preacher and author is buried in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.

Busby, Sian

1960-2012

A Commonplace Killing (2012). The novel was set around Holloway Road, Seven Sisters Road and Caledonian Road.

Clee, Nicholas

Don't sweat the Aubergine (2005). The writer and journalist lives in Plimsoll Road with his wife Nicolette Jones.

Channing Wright, Sarah

The Angels of Islington (2014) A gothic thriller set in Islington following a group of vampires who have successfully integrated themselves into the goth scene of nineties.

Cusk, Rachel

1967-

Medea (2015). The play premiered at the Almeida and was set in a modern Islington home.

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'.

Defoe, Daniel

1660-1731

Robinson Crusoe (1719–22) and other titles. Defoe is buried in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.