Monday, November 07, 2011

A literary tour of London by Laura from SisterSpooky: Book Fangirl

Hello and a huge welcome to today's lovely guest poster, Laura from SisterSpooky: Book Fangirl, one of my absolute favourite UK book bloggers. Laura agreed to do this wonderful post about matching places in her favourite books to those of the real-life landmarks in London! An absolutely wonderful idea, thank you so much Laura!

Please do visit Laura, and follow both her blog and her on Twitter:

The capital city of this fair land is more than just the London you see on TV or read about in books. It's massive place full of history and wonder as the old and new layer each other everywhere you look. So it's no big shock that so many authors have used London as a back drop or setting for their books. So I'm going to give you a little tour of a few places in London that you may know and some you probably won't and where you might spot them in some books I love.

Big Ben is one of the landmarks that is iconic the world over for London but it's also featured hugely in literature from the recent Six Days by Philip Webb that see's a dystopian London reduced to rumble and inside the workings of Big Ben our heroine meets a stranger that changes her life. Kings Cross Station as well as the hidden streets of London are key in Harry Potter; so much so that people visit them every day to relive the Harry Potter magic in person.

London is the backdrop for the Sherlock Holmes books and Baker Street even has it's own signage and place marker on the building that he "lived" in. Charles Dickens is famed for writing books based in London from Oliver Twist to A Tale of Two Cities. Chick Lit books like Bridget Jones' Diary by Hellen Fielding and Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella give us a modern day London where business, restaurants and shops way heavy on the story and the characters lives. The Day of the Triffads by John Wyndham sees an end of the world London where all is thought lost in the big city they have to escape into the safety of the suburbs.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is set against Victorian London and has many big tourist spots mentioned in the book. However one that is mentioned and is a main setting for the book is the Institute which is an actual place in London (but obviously not a real Institute for undercover Shadow hunters….maybe) It's St. Bride's Church which is just around the corner from Fleet Street. It's hugely impressive in person and I got quite giddy when I saw it and kept looking around for other places in the book; the attic window Will looks out from and the steps of the building where the big events happen as they come and go from the building. It's so pretty to look at and it's like a secret gem of the city as it's set back from the main street so you wouldn't find it unless you looked for it.

The mysterious Templar buildings that are behind gates look impressive but can't be reached normally and makes them all the more mysterious. Sawat Chadda's Devil's Kiss is all about the Knights Templar and the secret organisation that fights the evil in the city the same ways their warrior ancienters did. The seal on the gate is both cool to see and makes the building all the more of a puzzle for the readers that know some of the secrets they may hold. If only Billi SanGreai was coming in/out when I was there and I could have gotten inside!

The River Thames and the bridges over them are featured in Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon's Lexicon, Covenant and Surrender with the Thames itself being a big part of the final book as we see the magicians on a boat there and then in her earlier book our heroes do battle on the Millennium bridge at one point. Sarah did extensive research on the locations she put into her book series (she went as far as to try climbing the bridge wire works to see how they supported someones weight and the balance much to the dismay of the staff at the near by museum that likely thought she was climbing it for some other terrible reason!) She writes London as more than just a place but a network for her stories and it's part of why I love these books so much!

London is an incredible city and there are many MANY more books both classic and contemporary that feature London as a location, a character in it's own right and a source of inspiration. So I'm saying YAY for London and YAY for books that have REAL places so you can almost touch a bit of the fiction you love.


  1. It is surprising how many American authors are setting there books in London! Fab post Laura.

  2. Brilliant post, whilst I knew of a few of these there were a lot I didn't (particularly the fact that the Institute is based on an actual place - I'm definitely going to be making a visit!).

  3. I love this post! I'd love to go on a tour of them all.

    I actually have an extremely embarrassing picture of me posing outside 211B grinning like a loon.
    Sherlock fangirl over here :-D

  4. Brilliant post! I've set a book in London too - it's a fab book city!

  5. London is an awesome city, for sure. When I was over there, we got to spend one weekend... ONE WEEKEND there! Not even CLOSE to enough time. (Though we did manage a lot in those few days!) Yeah, some day, I'm going back. And when that happens, literary places will be much higher on my list.

  6. Thank you so much for this post Laura! I love the idea of going to a particular place in order to do a bookish tour. It's not something I'd ever considered before, but it sounds like so much fun!

  7. glad everyone enjoyed the post! i love London and it's always pretty awesome to visit places that are in books because it's almost like the book is real!

  8. M late to this but awesome post Laura, i wanna visit many of these places! :D


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