Just when I thought I was nearing my list of things to do in London, a particularly thoughtful, highly appropriate and deeply appreciated gift, from my eldest son, sent me off on a new and fascinating round of exploration.
The gift was a book called “Literary London, a street by street exploration of the capital’s literary heritage” by Ed Glinert. Glinert, who was born in Dalston, has already written three books about London “The London Compendium”, “East end Chronicles” and West End Chronicles. “Literary London” also appeared in a previous edition entitled “A Literary Guide to London”. His knowledge of the city, its history and the people who have lived there seems encyclopedic. His knowledge of literature is awe-inspiring.
“Literary London” is a great read. It is brilliantly written, witty and absorbing. It is full of fascinating stories about writers – famous, infamous, little known and unheard of – and the places where they worked and lived. It describes locations and buildings, from the celebrated to the obscure, which have featured in literature. It details the great London bookshops and publishing houses. It gives six great guided walks based on authors including Shakespeare and Dickens and on characters like Sherlock Holmes.
Literary London had me glued to its pages, in the Australian spring and pounding the autumn London pavements through November and into December. It took me to parts of London I would never have found, or dreamed of visiting. It brought to life parts of the city I would have probably dismissed as drab and without interest. It introduced me, too, to writers I would otherwise not have discovered.