Literary Road Map of Islington

  • 18
  • Nov

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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Cusk, Rachel

1967-

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

Davies, Caitlin

1964-

Bad Girls: A History of Rebels and Renegades (2018). Davies lives in Holloway and has written about Holloway Prison.

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.

Drabble, Dame Margaret

1939-

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

1955-

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.

Dunant, Sarah

(1950-)

Fatlands a Hannah Wolfe mystery (1993). The author lived in Highwood Road.

Eddleston, John J.

1952-

Foul Deeds in Islington (2010). An account of true crime in the borough.

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.

Fiegel, Eddi

John Barry - A Sixties Theme (2012). The journalist and author has written widely on music biography and travel and lives in north Islington.

Gaiman, Neil

1960-

Neverwhere (1996). In the story ‘Islington’ is a fallen angel who lives under London.

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.