Get to Know the Literary South London

As the seasons change, now is a great time to snuggle up with a good book. Our selection here is designed to help you get to know South London a little better as all of the following are set in the Capital’s south side or have a strong connection with it.

People Who Say Goodbye: Memories of Childhood, by P.Y. Betts

This is the biography of a young girl who grew up around Wandsworth Common during the First World War. She lived in Magdalen Road and is a very astute describer of the time and this area. A funny, insightful, well-written memoir.

The End of the Affair, by Graham Green

‘This is a record of hate far more than of love,’ writes Maurice Bendrix in the opening passages of The End of the Affair, and it is a strange hate indeed that compels him to set down the retrospective account of his adulterous affair with Sarah Miles. Sarah lives with her husband, Henry, on the North side of Clapham Common and her, sometime, lover Maurice, resides on the South side. The novel visits various pubs and venues around Clapham.

Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy

A good man in a bad world, Jon Sigurdsson is 59 and a divorced senior civil servant working in Westminster. A man of conscience, he hates many of his colleagues and loathes his work for a government engaged in unmentionable acts.

Meg Williams is ‘a bankrupt accountant — two words you don’t want in the same sentence, or anywhere near your CV’. She’s 45 and shakily sober, living on Telegraph Hill, Lewisham, where she can see London unfurl below her. Somewhere out there is safety.

‘Serious Sweet’ follows the lives of Meg and Jon, two people trudging through their lives and dealing with their damaged selves. Set in 2014, we see our two protagonists realise the bittersweet sorrows of living in England’s capital. With settings ranging across London, Kennedy writes a modern morality tale, showing characters searching for tenderness in a supposed harsh world.

Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary

A young girl causes a fatal car crash and disappears from the scene.
A runaway, who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home…
to the one man who understands her and gives her shelter. Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house. He’s the head of her new family. He’s Harm. And when Harm’s family is threatened, Detective Inspector Marnie Rome is about to find out that everything tastes like fear.

Set in the shadow of Battersea Power Station, this crime novel paints a picture of the world of those who fall through the cracks of South London’s society.

The King of Clubs (short story) by Agatha Christie

A woman covered in blood and crying ‘Murder!’ interrupts a family of four playing cards at their Streatham home. Hercule Poirot is asked by Prince Paul of Maurania to solve the murder of Henry Reedburn, which has greatly distressed the Prince’s fiancée, the famous dancer Valerie Saintclair.  Available for the first time as an e-book.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

‘Adventure of the Norwood Builder’ was originally published as a short story in the Strand magazine in 1903/4. In 1905, it was included in the ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’, a collection of 13 stories featuring the world famous detective.  The Norwood builder in question was Jonas Oldacre and his accused murderer, John Hector McFarlane, a lawyer  from Blackheath, who seeks Sherlock’s help to clear his name.