Books about Chiswick

We have put together a "top ten" of literary references to Chiswick. This is based on the suggestions of site members. If you have spotted any better Chiswick references please tell us and we will add them to the list.

New "Westwick" novel puts Chiswick in the Spotlight

There is also a selection of books about the history of Chiswick. If there are any privately published books about Chiswick history that we have missed we would love to hear about them. A full listing of Chiswick history books is available from the library for 50p.

Chiswick in Fiction - Top Ten References

If you think something should be added to this list please let us know


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.

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The History of Chiswick

If you are interested in Chiswick's history the Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society has meetings on the third Monday of each month at Chiswick library

Then & Now Chiswick has been compiled by husband and wife team Carolyn and Peter Hammond (Carolyn looks after the archives at Chiswick Public Library and is an absolute fount of wisdom on all matters historical relating to the area).

This is simply a fascinating book: over 80 images, some never previously published and drawn from a range of sources including Chiswick Library's extensive archives, Gunnersbury Park Museum and local individuals' collections, are reproduced alongside modern shots of the same scene, dramatically illustrating both how much our local area has changed in the last century or so
Bedford Park - the First Garden Suburb The Bedford Park Society has recently republished Tom Greeves's important book "Bedford Park- the first garden suburb" (hardback). Available, price 16.00 plus 1.50 p+p, from Peter Murray, Hon.Sec Bedford Park Society, 31 Priory Avenue, London W4 1TZ.
William Roe - Glimpses of Chiswick's Development Mr Roe has lived in Chiswick for most of his 80 years (when he wasn't here he was fighting for his country) and has written three books. He illustrates his own books. The books are auto-biographical but with a strong feeling for historical accuracy. The books are priced at £10 and can be bought at the local history society meetings or from 14 Alwyn Avenue between 10.30am and 4pm on week days.
Gillian Clegg - Chiswick Past

Nicely produced and readable review of Chiswick's history. Well illustrated it takes you through from the earliest records through to modern times.
The Birth of A Parish - The creation of Saint Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park. By Michael Broom, with original illustrations and drawings by Nigel Woolner. St Michael & All Angels was conceived as the cornerstone of Bedford Park and was the replacement for a corrugated iron church in Chiswick High Road. This book describes the creation of the new parish and its church(designed by the well-known architect Norman Shaw) as well as the conflicts and strong characters involved in its foundation. 9.95 from local shops or from the Parish Office, 020 8994 1380. Proceeds go to the Parish Hall project.
Patrick Loobey- Chiswick This addition to the "Britain in Old Photographs" series brings together a collection of black-and-white pictures spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawn from family albums, local collections and professional photographers, they show the way things were and how they have changed. Every photograph is captioned, providing names and dates where possible, revealing historical and anecdotal detail and giving life to the scenes and personalities captured through the camera lens. Bringing together all aspects of daily life - celebrations and disasters, work and leisure, people and buildings - the collection should inspire memories, as well as serve as an introduction to visitors.
Margeret Bolsteri - The Early Community at Bedford Park An account of the social life in Bedford Park between 1876 and 1885, featuring the early residents "who thought of themselves as founders of a utopian community." There are copies in Chiswick library.
Roy Foster - W.B. Yeats, a Life Part 1 - The Apprentice Mage 1865-1914 Eminent historian Roy Foster relates the time that WB Yeats spent early in his life in Blenheim Road Bedford Park to other aspects of his family background giving perhaps the best biographical detail of those early years. The book shows that what is possibly the most famous poem in the English language was written in Chiswick.
T. Affleck Greeves - Guide to Bedford Park Guided walks point out the buildings of particular interest for their architecture or the personalities linked with them. Available for sale in Chiswick library at £2.00.

Sybil Pearce - An Edwardian childhood in Bedford Park (1900-1910)
A post-Edwardian girlhood in Bedford Park (1910-1918)

The first book starts - "A child in Bedford Park at the turn of the century found the Avenue a quiet friendly road with scarcely any traffic passing through from Acton to Chiswick. The occasional horse-drawn butcher's cart, a three wheeled milk "float" hung round with jangling milk cans, and a few bicycles were all that could be seen." Oh dear!

Both books are in Chiswick library.

John Harris - The Palladian Revival: Lord Burlington, His Villa and Garden at Chiswick In 1726, Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, built an addition to his modest country house on the river Thames at Chiswick. The structure was a free standing "villa", which is the subject of this book. The author explores the villa's architectural inspiration and the evolution of its design
Warwick H Draper - Chiswick This fairly definitive guide to Chiswick history was first published in 1932.
Chiswick as it was  
Susan Morris - Chiswick House Intended to help teachers planning a site visit to Chiswick House, this book combines historical background with a variety of possible study approaches, documentary sources, and photocopiable activity sheets for classroom and on-site work. There is also practical information about the site.
Pamela Daphne Edwards - Hammersmith and Chiswick in Old Picture Postcards  
The Story of Voysey House (In Barley Mow passage - a Grade II listed building)
Ann Radcliffe: A Bio-bibliography Arguably the most popular novelist of her day and the mother of the female Gothic literary tradition, Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) who lived in Chiswick has received varying amounts of critical attention and is now being recognised for her important contribution to English literature.
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958-1978 Includes the early years of The Who (Pete Townsend and John Entwhistle were from Chiswick)
The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh He preached once in a now-demolished hall off Chiswick High Road. He also sketched St Nicholas's Church.
Chiswick 1893 A map of the area from that date

You can buy many of the books listed here through this site by clicking on the links and images but most of them are available in the library.

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