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London’s Top 5 Literary and Artistic Historical Hot Spots


Some of history’s greatest thinkers and writers found inspiration from living in London. We rediscover these literary hotspots, and what they have now since become.

Charles Dickens @ The House of St Barnabas Before the House of St Barnabas became a chic private members’ club in the heart of Soho, it was once an aristocratic corner house lived in since the seventeenth century by timber merchants, barons, and Jamaican plantation owners. In the mid-nineteenth century, according to research, Charles Dickens found inspiration from the rooms and gardens, the result being novel, Tales of Two Cities, which was published in 1859.

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Karl Marx@Quo Vadis Between 1851-1856 Karl Marx and his family lived at 28 Dean Street, which he described as an “old hovel”. In 1926 the restaurant Quo Vadis was opened, and has since become one of Soho’s most iconic restaurants, now owned by Damien Hirst and Marco Pierre White. If you get a chance to sample the Quo Vadis specials of pie and mash, or their smoked eel sandwich, think of Marx penning his political economy blockbuster, Das Kapital.

Image credit: quovadissoho

Virginia Woolf @ The Fitzroy Tavern Virginia Woolf, one of the leading literary figures of the twentieth century, lived in the Fitzrovia neighbourhood of London’s West End and was a regular visitor to the Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street. The pub embraces its literary history by having a writers and artists bar in the basement. So, if you’re a writer and seeking inspiration, you can find it there over a pint and a packet of pork scratchings.

Image credit: rivetandhide

Vincent van Gogh @ 87 Hackford Road, BrixtonIn 1873, an unknown 20-year-old Dutch artist moved into the attic of a three story Georgian house in Brixton, while he worked at art dealership Goupil & Co. A sketch of this house was only discovered in the 1970s purely by accident, when the drawing was discovered in an old box of photographs that had been kept by the owner’s granddaughter. Further evidence of Brixton’s authentic artistic foundation.

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William Blake @ Peckham RyePeckham was at the forefront of hipster cool as far back as the mid-eighteenth century, when a young William Blake, aged 8, used to walk from Soho to Peckham Rye to get his fix of green away from the hustle bustle of the city centre. It was during one of these walks that he famously believed he saw a tree filled with angels, the first of many angelic visions. A mural of these visions can be seen at Goose Green, which is visited regularly by Blake pilgrims.

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