Literary Road Map of Islington

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

Drabble, Dame Margaret


The Garrick Year (1964). In the novel Emma Evans lives near Pentonville Road and walks north from Angel to Islington Green.

Duffy, Dame Carol Ann


The former Poet Laureate, along with other authors, took part in protests outside Pentonville Prison in 2014, against the government ban on prisoners being allowed books in their cells.

Harvey, William


London Scenes & London People (1863). Doctor, Journalist and Superintendent of the Islington Reformatory. Died at 48 Lonsdale Square.

Hollis, J S

A Rational Man (2018). The book is set in Islington in the near-future, where Sebastian grows up on the current site of Pentonville Prison.

Holyoake, George Jacob


History of Co-operation in England (1875). The newspaper editor coined the terms “secularism” and “jingoism”. Lived at 62 Pentonville Road.

Hughes, Thomas


Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857). Tom Brown stays at the Peacock Inn (a coaching inn located at the site of 11 Islington High Street) before he sets off for Rugby School.

Jarman, Derek


The artist, filmmaker, LGBT activist and writer lived at 60 Liverpool Road at the beginning of his career from 1967-69.

Kanga, Firdaus


Trying to Grow (1991) The author and actor wrote his semi-autobiographical work while living in Islington.

Kavanagh, Patrick


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

Koestler, Arthur


Darkness at Noon (1940). The Hungarian-born Koestler was detained for six weeks in 1940 after arriving in England without papers. His best known work, Darkness at Noon was published in England while he was in Pentonville Prison.

Lock, Joan


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.

Lamb, Charles


Essays of Elia (1823) and other titles. The essayist and poet moved to 45 Chapel Street (now Chapel Market) with his father in 1797 and then across the road to number 36 in 1799. Lamb also lived in Colebrooke Cottage in Colebrooke Row (now 64 Duncan Terrace) with his sister Mary from 1823-27.