Chiswick In Fiction

From Dickens to Parks Via Mavis Cheek

John Malcolm - Gothic Pursuits Out of print

Part of the Tim Simpson series - the hunt for a Norman Shaw antique takes him to the Church of St. Michael and All Angels and the Tabard Inn. This book was first published in 1987 and is not in print any more. Second hand hardback versions are available on the web.

Patrick Hamilton - Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky

This is a trilogy of books in which Chiswick plays a large part, usually representing social stability and gentility in contrast to more dissolute parts of London, Although better know for his plays, particularly Rope which Hitchcock filmed, many consider this to be the best part of Hamilton's work.

Readers' comments: "Patrick Hamilton is a must read author particularly if you live in this area. The streets are the same, the places are all familiar but what really surprises is that the vices are just the same. If you imagined Chiswick between the wars to be an idyllic Ealing comedy type age of innocence, think again."

Harold Pinter's "The Caretaker"

Pinter wrote The Caretaker while living in a first floor flat at 373 Chiswick High Road. He had moved there at the beginning of 1958 living in two rooms with his wife Vivien and newborn son. The house was also shared by two brothers who had taken in a tramp but after a dispute the tramp was thrown out. These events form the basis for what narrative there is in the play.

GK Chesterton - The Man who was Thursday

This tale of anarchists determined to undermine world order begins in "Saffron Park" an aesthetic suburb of London. Chesterton used to be a regular visitor to Bedford Park as his fiancee lived in Bath Road.

Readers' comments: "Chesterton's association with Bedford Park was very close and it shows in this book which isn't one of his best but very interesting from an historical point of view. Hard to think of these leafy roads as a centre for intrigue but apparently they were."

Mavis Cheek - Pause Between Acts

More menopausal angst from Mavis. "Chiswick had milkmen who whistled and came regularly each morning - real stability. Notting Hill sold its milk in cartons and nobody knew your name."

Ross King - Domino

A naive young painter comes to London in the 1770s and becomes the apprentice of a famous artist based in Chiswick. He then becomes involved in masked intrigues and is told the extraordinary tale of the Italian castrato Tristano.

Readers' comments: "Fascinating book and a very entertaining story which gives a lot of insight into Chiswick at the time."

John Fowles - A Maggot

More crime in Chiswick as the strange tale of a journey west out of London in the early 19th century. The ill assorted group take a rest stop in Chiswick as people often did then and are soon set upon. Things get really strange as their journey is completed.

Readers' comments: "Like many of his other books Fowles presents a gripping story which he then fails to conclude satisfactorily. This one is the worst but it is worth reading for the first three quarters and the interesting local period detail"

W M Thackeray - Vanity Fair

Thackeray went to school in Chiswick and this novel opens at Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies on Chiswick Mall.

Charles Dickens - a Tale of Two Cities

There is only a fleeting reference in Dicken's classic but it is a telling one. When he talks of the "best of times and the worst of times" one example of the latter was the robbery of the Mayor of London at Turnham Green. In Oliver Twist Bill Sykes and Oliver pass through Chiswick on their way towards Shepperton to take part in the attempted robbery at the Maylie's house.

Celia Brayfield - Getting Home

The Chiswick becomes Westwick in this fictionalised version of West London life by a former resident. The perfect home life of Stephanie Sands falls apart when her husband is kidnapped with comic consequences. Also see the second in the Westwick series Mr. Fabulous and Friends.



What I Read This Summer - Chance to join the literati with Chiswick Book Festival's Young Writers' Competition

Author, Broadcaster, Conservationist and University Professor Polly Devlin OBE

Adele Parks - one of best-loved biggest-selling fiction writers in country


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August 10, 2010