A Novel Walk Through London

We've done a hundred booklists about walking round London (or at least, two), so we thought we'd better come up with a new idea this time. Instead of sending you traipsing off after Iain Sinclair following the Overground, or Dickens on a nighttime ramble, we're giving you a walking tour inspired by London's multitude of fictional inhabitants. We've even plotted them all on a map for you to plan your own route round literary London:

For more of this sort of thing, see also Ed Glinert's excellent street-by-street exploration of the capital, Literary London.

The Death of the Heart

Elizabeth Bowen

From the publisher:

An immaculate portrait of adolescent love from one of our most beloved novelists. ‘One of the last century’s greatest woman writers’ Guardian When sixteen-year-old ...

The Colour of Memory

Geoff Dyer

From the publisher:

‘Not since Colin MacInnes’s City of Spades and Absolute Beginners thirty years ago has a novel stuck a flick-knife so accurately into the young and marginal city’ The Times

There But for the

Ali Smith

From the publisher:

‘There once was a man who, one night at a dinner party, went upstairs and locked himself in one of the bedrooms of the house of the people who were giving the dinner ...


Zadie Smith

From the publisher:

From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their city is brutal, beautiful and complicated. Yet after a chance encounter they each find that the choices ...

Our Mutual Friend

Charles Dickens, edited by Adrian Poole, introduction by Adrian Poole, other Stephen Wall

From the publisher:

Tells a story spanning all levels of Victorian society. This book centre’s on an inheritance – Old Harmon’s profitable dust heaps – and its legatees, young John ...


Stella Gibbons, introduction by Lynne Truss

From the publisher:

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY LYNNE TRUSS ‘Stella Gibbons is the Jane Austen of the twentieth century’ The Times Set in wartime London, Westwood tells the story of Margaret ...

The Ballad of Peckham Rye

Muriel Spark, introduction by William Boyd

From the publisher:

A man of devilish charm and enterprising spirit, Dougal Douglas is employed to revitalize the ailing firm of Meadows, Meade & Grindley. Strange things begin to happen as ...

The Diary of a Nobody

George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith, read by Martin Jarvis

George and Weedon Grossmith’s affectionate social satire has never been out of print since its first publication in 1892. Its heroic central character is Charles Pooter, whose passionate if ...

Absolute Beginners

Colin MacInnes

From the publisher:

London, 1958. In the jazz clubs of Soho and the coffee bars of Notting Hill the young and the restless – the absolute beginners – are forging a new lifestyle of sex, ...


Penelope Fitzgerald, introduction by Alan Hollinghurst

From the publisher:

Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker Prize-winning novel of loneliness and connecting is set among the houseboat community of the Thames and has a new introduction from Alan ...

Novel on Yellow Paper

Stevie Smith, introduction by Janet Watts

Lily recommends:

'Go away and write a novel, and we will then think about the poems,' came the reply from Chatto & Windus when Stevie Smith sent them her poetry. This is the novel she wrote. In ...

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer, translated by Nevill Coghill

From the publisher:

Offers us a glimpse into the life and mind of Medieval England. This is a masterly collection of chivalric romances, moral allegories and low farce.

Liza of Lambeth

W. Somerset Maugham

From the publisher:

Down among the drab slums of Lambeth, eighteen-year-old Liza is the darling of Vere Street. But then Liza meets Jim Blakeston, charming and worldy, new to the area, and ...