London Literary Trails and Tours
London has an unrivalled literary heritage, and many buildings, places, sights (and sites!) intimately associated with writers throughout the ages still exist and can be visited - from Walter Ralegh, William Shakespeare, Samuel Pepys, and Dr Johnson to Carlyle, Dickens, Marx, Rimbaud, T S Eliot, as well as contemporary writers such as Ian McEwan and Alan Hollinghurst.
This vast, enlivening history stretches back over 700 years to the 13th and 14th centuries and writers such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Thomas Malory and the printer William Caxton, who in 1477 produced the first printed book in England on his printing press close by Westminster Abbey.
The strategic value of Primrose Hill has been realised in fact and fiction. In H.G.Wells' The War of the Worlds (1898) the Martians make their seventh 'final and largest' base at Primrose Hill, to attempt a decisive assault on the city.
During the Blitz (in the Second World War) Primrose Hill provided a location from which to defend the city, as described in Aldous Huxley's wartime novel Time Must have A Stop (1944): A man meditates in his flat during an air raid in which 'the guns on Primrose Hill were banging away in a kind of frenzy.'
The Twilight Bark
Next to the park, Primrose Hill village is full of character, with an excellent bookshop. Just opposite the entrance to the park (on the village side) you'll see the house at 122 Regent's Park Road to which Friedrich Engels moved in 1870. He lived here until his death in 1895. Following cremation at Woking Crematorium (I don't know why I find the idea of Engels being cremated in Woking kind of bizarre, but I do) his ashes were scattered off Beachy Head, as he had requested.
One of the area's most famous current residents is Alan Bennett.
NEW! Shaken not stirred: A brief guide to IAN FLEMING, CREATOR OF JAMES BOND, in the capital.
IRIS MURDOCH WALKS
18th CENTURY LONDON