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London Fictions

The Literary London Society is proud to host the essays below, which began as a collection of works on London fiction of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries curated by Andrew Whitehead. As Andrew writes, this collection celebrates “the novels which capture the essence of an absorbing city.” Our sincere thanks to Andrew for his kind permission to host this material on our website.


To 1900  |  1901-1930  |  1931-1960  |  1961-1990  |  1991-on


To 1900

Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) – Dermot Kavanagh

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1860-1) – David Parker

Walter Besant, All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882) – Eliza Cubitt

Amy Levy, Reuben Sachs (1888) – Susie Thomas

Margaret Harkness, Out of Work (1888) – John Lucas

Margaret Harkness, In Darkest London (1889) – Flore Janssen

Julia Frankau, A Babe in Bohemia (1889) – Lisa Robertson

George Gissing, The Nether World (1889) – Andrew Whitehead

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890) – Andrew Lane

George Gissing, New Grub Street (1891) – Bobby Seal

Henry W. Nevinson, Neighbours of Ours (1895) – Angela V. John

Arthur Morrison, A Child of the Jago (1896) – Sarah Wise

William Pett Ridge, Mord Em’ly (1898) – Jonathon Green

M. P. Shiel, The Yellow Danger (1898) – Anne Witchard

Arthur Morrison, To London Town (1899) – Eliza Cubitt


1901-1930

Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent (1907) – Sarah Wise

A. Neil Lyons, Arthur’s (1908) – Peter Jones

Thomas Burke, Limehouse Nights (1916) – Anne Witchard

Dorothy Richardson, The Tunnel (1919) – Bobby Seal

Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room (1922) – Robert B. Todd

Arnold Bennett, Riceyman Steps (1923) – Fran Pickering

Aldous Huxley, Antic Hay (1923) – Ged Pope

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925) – Anne Fernald

Christopher Isherwood, All the Conspirators (1928) – Katharine Stevenson

Lao She, Mr Ma and Son (1929) – Anne Witchard

Patrick Hamilton, The Midnight Bell (1929) – Simon Goulding

Jean Rhys, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1930) – Susie Thomas

A. P. Herbert, The Water Gipsies (1930) – John Wilson


1931-1960

Pamela Hansford Johnson, This Bed Thy Centre (1935) – Zoë Fairbairns

Simon Blumenfeld, Jew Boy (1935) – Rachel Lichtenstein

John Sommerfield, May Day (1936) – John King

James Curtis, The Gilt Kid (1936) – Stefan Slater

Virginia Woolf, The Years (1937) – Nuala Casey

Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938) – Nicolas Tredell

Sajjad Zaheer, A Night in London (1938) – Madhu Singh

John Sommerfield, Trouble in Porter Street (1939) – Andrew Whitehead

Patrick Hamilton, Hangover Square (1941) – John Lucas

Graham Greene, The Ministry of Fear (1943) – Nicolas Tredell

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Guignol’s Band I & II (1944 / 1964) – Claire Lozier

Norman Collins, London Belongs to Me (1945) – Séamas Duffy

Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day (1948) – Jane Miller

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) – Sarah Wise

Rose Macaulay, The World My Wilderness (1950) – Sam Wiseman

Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951) – Nicolas Tredell

Alexander Baron, Rosie Hogarth (1951) – Andrew Whitehead

Jack Lindsay, Rising Tide (1953) – Andy Croft

Iris Murdoch, Under the Net (1954) – John Wilson

Samuel Selvon, The Lonely Londoners (1956) – Bill Schwarz

Gerald Kersh, Fowlers End (1957) – Séamas Duffy

Colin MacInnes, City of Spades (1957) – Kate Houlden

Kevin FitzGerald, Trouble in West Two (1958) – Cathi Unsworth

Colin MacInnes, Absolute Beginners (1959) – Jerry White

E. R. Braithwaite, To Sir, With Love (1959) – Susie Thomas

Lynne Reid Banks, The L-Shaped Room (1960) – Cathi Unsworth

Colin MacInnes, Mr Love and Justice (1960) – Sam Wiseman

Colin Wilson, Ritual in the Dark (1960) – Colin Stanley


1961-1990

Colin Wilson, Adrift in Soho (1961) – Colin Stanley

Terry Taylor, Baron’s Court, All Change (1961) – Stewart Home

Laura Del-Rivo, The Furnished Room (1961) – Nicolas Tredell

Robert Poole, London E1 (1961) – Rachel Lichtenstein

Len Deighton, The Ipcress File (1962) – Nicolas Tredell

Alexander Baron, The Lowlife (1963) – Ken Worpole

B. S. Johnson, Albert Angelo (1964) – Andy Wimbush

Waguih Ghali, Beer in the Snooker Club (1964) – Susie Thomas

Anthony Cronin, The Life of Riley (1964) – Tony Murray

Nell Dunn, Poor Cow (1967) – Jane McChrystal

Kamala Markandaya, The Nowhere Man (1972) – Charles R. Larson

Lionel Davidson, The Chelsea Murders (1978) – Dermot Kavanagh

Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore (1979) – John Wilson

J. M. O’Neill, Duffy Is Dead (1987) – Ken Worpole

Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington (1988) – Jane McChrystal

Martin Amis, London Fields (1989) – Carla Scura

Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) – Susie Thomas

Neil Bartlett, Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall (1990) – Gregory Woods

Nigel Williams, The Wimbledon Poisoner (1990) – David Charnick


1991-on

Peter Ackroyd, The Plato Papers (1999) – David Charnick

Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000) – Lisa Gee

Chris Petit, The Hard Shoulder (2001) – Valentine Cunningham

Iain Banks, Dead Air (2002) – Courttia Newland

Monica Ali, Brick Lane (2003) – Sanchita Islam

Naomi Alderman, Disobedience (2006) – Audrey Snee

Xiaolu Guo, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (2007) – Susie Thomas

Jonathan Kemp, London Triptych (2010) – Suneel Mehmi

Martin Amis, Lionel Asbo (2012) – Nicolas Tredell

Zadie Smith, NW (2012) – Philippa Thomas

Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train (2015) – Jo Casebourne

Natasha Pulley, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (2015) – Suneel Mehmi

Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire (2017) – Andrew Whitehead

Michèle Roberts, The Walworth Beauty (2017) – Suneel Mehmi

Balli Kaur Jaswal, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows (2017) – Suneel Mehmi

Claire North, 84K (2018) – Suneel Mehmi

Vesna Goldsworthy, Monsieur Ka (2018) – Jane McChrystal

Tony White, The Fountain in the Forest (2018) – Suneel Mehmi