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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  • Screen/playwright

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.

Baron, Alexander

1917-1999

Rosie Hogarth (1951). Baron wrote about the changes to a tightknit, working class community in a street close to Chapel Market at the end of WWII.

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'.

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.

Gray, Simon

1936-2008

Otherwise Engaged (1975). The play is set in the living room of the Hench's house in Islington.

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.

Hale, Lionel

1909-1977

These Two (1934). The critic, broadcaster and playwright lived at number 76 Noel Road.

Heywood, Thomas

c1574-1641

A Woman Killed with Kindness (c.1603). Heywood was the resident playwright at the Red Bull Theatre, which was based in what is now Haywood’s Place. He was living in Clerkenwell at the time of his death.

Jackson, Mike

Pride (2017) Jackson, contributor to the book and the movie ‘Pride’ was a squatter at 39 Lloyd Baker Street whilst he was Secretary of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners during the 1984/5 Miners’ Strike.

Kavanagh, Patrick

1904-1967

Ploughman and Other Poems (1936) and other titles. The Irish poet lived in Milner Square.

Lock, Joan

1933-

Detective Best Series (2002-), Princess Alice Disaster (2013). Detective Best lives in Barnsbury and ends up on the Princess Alice, a pleasure steamer which sank in 1878 on the River Thames. 650 passengers and crew drowned in the tragedy, some of whom were from Islington.