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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  • West

Gordon, Kat

The Artificial Anatomy of Parks (2015). Fiction. Kat was born in Islington and attended the borough’s Thornhill Primary School and Camden School for Girls, just across the border. The Artificial Anatomy of Parks made the shortlist for ‘Not the Booker Prize’ 2015, which is run by the Guardian in the UK and voted on by the public.

Aston, Mark

(1960-)

King’s Cross: A Tour in Time (2006). An historical tour of the King’s Cross area in old photographs

Banks, Iain

1954-2013

Wasp Factory (1984), Walking on Glass (1985) and other titles. Banks lived at 27 Islington Park Street and wrote Wasp Factory while living there.

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.

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.

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.

Busby, Sian

1960-2012

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

Cargill, Perdita and Honor

Waiting for Callback series (2016-). The mother and daughter writing team live in Barnsbury.

Conan Doyle, Arthur

1859-1930

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (1892). Ryder tells of “a friend once called Maudsley, who went to the bad, and has just been serving his time in Pentonville.”

Cosh, Mary

1919-

History of Islington (2005) and other titles. The Islington historian, turned 100 this year and lives in Barnsbury.

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'.