Book settings: London

One of TSL’s straplines is #SupportingLocal. For TSL, local is wherever we want it to be as we have links in Africa as well as the UK and the US and into Europe and Australia…

However, many of our authors are local to our registered address in Hertfordshire, UK. Our physical location means we cross into at least three boroughs or counties as well as being part of Greater London. This is a blessing and a challenge as one tries to convince local bookshops and libraries that authors in the neighbouring town or county are actually local as they are closer to the shop/library than others in the named locality. Keeping track of which book would appeal to which area becomes quite a challenge as so many local locations may be mentioned in one book. What this has done, however, is made me realise how many authors use their localities for placing their novels (obviously autobiographical accounts are different).

A recent study on which parts of London featured in literature was quite revealing. TSL novels widen this map to West London, Hertfordshire and Berkshire.

Questions this raises are,
– Does a book with a specific location determine the wider success of a novel or not?
– How does a local-oriented book break through territorial boundaries?

London is clearly a well-known and loved city by many, so setting a book in the capital tends to make sense if a city backdrop is needed. A number of children’s classics use London for a setting or part thereof. Was this a way of preparing young people in the UK and wider empire for the day they would potentially visit? Was it a way of extending the capital to the outlying areas thereby giving citizens and others a feeling of being connected? Many visitors to London have said they feel they ‘know’ it (navigating the tube is a different story) – because of the books they’ve read?

The following TSL books are either set in London or feature the city significantly.

first published 12 August 2017, updated 2024