Literary Road Map of Islington

  • 24
  • Sep

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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  • South

Ackroyd, Peter

1949-

Clerkenwell Tales (2003) and other titles. His stories are set in and around Clerkenwell and in The House of Dr Dee (1993), Dr Dee lives at the site of what is the Clerks’ Well (14-16 Farringdon Lane).

Arnott, Jake

1961-

The Fatal Tree (2017). Arnott’s work of historical fiction looks at the life and crimes of Jack Sheppard from the point of view of his wife Edgeware Bess, as they move around Clerkenwell and other parts of London.

Bennett, Arnold

1867-1931

Riceyman Steps (1923). The story is about Henry Earlforward who owns a second-hand bookshop in Riceyman Steps, which were based on Gwynne Place, leading up from King’s Cross Road to Granville Square (Riceyman Square in the book).

Blake, William

1757-1827

Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1794) and other titles. The poet and artist is buried in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.

Bunyan, John

1628-1688

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

Burnett, Gilbert Bishop of Salisbury

1643-1715

History of the Reformation of the Church of England (1679). The Bishop lived in Clerkenwell and was described by John Dryden (1631-1700) as “a portly prince and goodly to the sight.”

Cavendish, Mary Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

1623-1673

The Blazing World (1666). She wrote what is regarded as one of the first science fiction novels and lived in Clerkenwell after the Restoration in 1660. Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) thought her a “conceited ridiculous woman.”

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.

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.

Gale, Theophilus

1628-1678

The Court of the Gentiles, or a Discourse Touching the Original of Human Nature (1677) The nonconformist teacher and author is buried in Bunhill Fields.

Gissing, George

1857-1903

The Nether World (1889), New Grub Street (1891) and other titles. Gissing lived at 5 Hannover Square in 1879 (now 60 Noel Road) and some of his novels were set in Clerkenwell, specifically Clerkenwell Green.