A Literary Map of London
The Indigo Fiction Blog is proud to add a Literary Map ofLondon to our growing list, that includes Vancouver, Dublin, Montreal, the Middle East and Japan. With a city so rich in literary history it is necessary to focus in on a select few of London’s great writers. In the coming months the Indigo blogs will cover some of the more contemporary authors out of England’s capital. As a precursor, here is a literary map of the men and women that were some(!) of the best-known Victorian novelists of 19th CenturyLondon.
i. THREE GREAT WRITERS, ONE GREAT ERA AND THE URBAN LANDSCAPE THEY SHARED
Three great men, three great books and one of the greatest era’s in literary history between them. It’s a lovely opening sentence, isn’t it? Could be the caption on a new BBC series. Trouble is it’s inaccurate. While William Makepeace Thackeray can be said to have produced a single masterpiece in Vanity Fair and perhaps you could narrow the 47 novels (47!) Anthony Trollope penned down to the second book in his Chronicles of Barsetshire series, Barchester Towers it would be fairly criminal to attempt to whittle Charles Dickens’ oeuvre to just one - though many would point to Great Expectations, if they weren’t pointing to Bleak House, Little Dorrit, David Copperfield or A Tale of Two Cities. Regardless, three literary masters in their own rights, all writing at in an era many consider the greatest in literary history, under the reign of the queen who gave that era its name.
Dickens, Thackeray and Trollope not only wrote during the Victorian era and lived in the same city, but were at times writing from or about the very same places. Like a Google map zoning in, Literary London by Ed Glinert, gives a “street-by-street exploration of the capital’s literary heritage,” covering practically every great London writer imaginable. For our purposes it’s interesting to note how the Custom House on Lower Thames Street in Central London is featured in Trollope’s The Three Clerks and Dicken’s Great Expectations – it’s from there that Pip sets out on a boat as part of his plan to get Magwitch out of the country. A mere stone’s throw from there, a young Anthony Trollope worked at a post office from 1834-1841, before which each day at 5:30 a.m., one of the world’s most prolific authors would write 250 words every 15 minutes for an hour before breakfast. Better still, you could easily walk from there to the Athenaeum club where Trollope wrote the last Chronicle of Barsetshire (1867), and where Dickens and Thackeray made up a friendship that had broken off years earlier.