Lewisham Council - Famous Lewisham writers
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Famous Lewisham writers

Here are a few famous writers with ties to Lewisham. The list is by no means definitive, but a good place to start finding out about the literary figures to have graced the borough.

Christopher Marlowe

1564-1593
Playwright
Poet
Visitor
Deptford

Poet and playwright, author of Dr Faustus, Tamburlaine and other plays. Marlowe was killed by an acquaintance after a quarrel in a Deptford house, probably a tavern, owned by Eleanor Bull, widow. He is buried in St Nicholas’ churchyard.

Marlowe is also the subject of Anthony Burgess' historical novel, A Dead Man in Deptford.

Edith Nesbit

1858-1924
Novelist
Political activist
Resident
Lewisham

Edith Nesbit is best known for writing The Railway Children, Five Children and It and The Wouldbegoods, although she actually wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a precursor to the modern Labour Party. When Nesbit was 17, the family moved again, this time back to London, living variously in South East London including it is thought off Loampit Lane in Lewisham.

Chrissie Gittins

Poet
Author
Resident
Lewisham

Chrissie’s first collection of poems is called Armature (Arc, 2003). Her children’s poetry collections are Now You See Me, Now You … (Rabbit Hole, 2002) – shortlisted for the inaugural CLPE Poetry Award 2003, and I Don’t Want an Avocado for an Uncle (Rabbit Hole, 2006) – selected as the Poetry Book Society’s single poet collection ‘Choice’ for the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf Autumn 2006, and shortlisted for the 2007 CLPE Poetry Award.

Two of her children’s poems won Belmont Poetry Prizes in 2002. Her debut short story collection is Family Connections (Salt, 2007). Chrissie’s plays for BBC Radio 4 include Starved for Love, Life Assurance and Dinner in the Iguanodon. Chrissie has received a fellowship at Hawthorden Castle, an Arts Council Grant for the Arts, and an award from the Author’s Foundation.

Henry Williamson

1895-1977
Author
Resident
Ladywell

Author of Tarka the Otter and other books. He went to Colfe’s Grammar School and lived prior to 1921 at 11 (now 21) Eastern Road, Ladywell. Several of his semi-autobiographical books concerning ‘Philip Maddison’ (Donkey Boy, How Dear is Life, The Young Philip Maddison etc.) are set in Lewisham. He is commemorated by a Lewisham Council / Henry Williamson Society plaque at 21 Eastern Road.

Robert Browning

1812-1889
Poet
Resident
New Cross

Robert Browning was a very popular poet of the 19th century; his poems include 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' and 'Oh to be in England, now that April’s here'. In 1841 he moved to New Cross with his parents and sister to Telegraph Cottage fronting onto Musgrove Road. In 1845 Browning eloped with Elizabeth Barrett, married and went to live in Italy. Browning’s family remained at New Cross until 1852.

Thomas Campbell

1777-1844
Author
Resident
Sydenham  

A poet and man of letters, he was born in Glasgow but settled from 1804 to 1821 in a house on Peak Hill, Sydenham, the site of which is now occupied by 91 Peak Hill. One of his best known works Gertrude of Wyoming, was written there. He was one of the founders of London University in 1826, and is buried in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey.

Raymond Chandler

1888-1959
Author
Resident
Forest Hill

Mystery and thriller writer, author of The Long Goodbye and The Big Sleep. Born in the USA, but educated at Dulwich College. Probably lived with his mother at 148 (now 138) Devonshire Road, Forest Hill from 1909 until he returned to America in 1912.

Lindsey Davis

1949-
Novelist
Resident
Brockley  

She was living in Brockley when her first novel was published in 1992. Her detective stories set in ancient Rome and featuring Marcus Didius Falco have won several awards. Subsequently moved to Greenwich.

Walter De La Mare

1873-1956
Poet
Novelist
Resident
Forest Hill  

Poet and novelist, author of Songs of Childhood, The Listeners and Other Poems and The Return. In 1877 the family moved to 5 Bovill Terrace (now 61 Bovill Road), Forest Hill. c. 1887 they moved to 57 Brookbank Road, Lewisham.

Ernest Dowson

1867-1900
Poet
Author
Resident
Lee  

Poet, dramatist and translator. Born at 11 Belmont Grove, Lee (Dowson Court stands on the site). Died in the house of a friend at 26 Sandhurst Gardens (now 159 Sangley Road), Catford. Buried in Ladywell Cemetery.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

1859-1930
Novelist
Visitor
Lee  

In 1907 he married, as his second wife, Jean, daughter of James Blyth Leckie of Glebe House, 10 The Glebe, SE3. Sherlock Holmes visits Lee twice, in The Man with the Twisted Lip in which he called at The Cedars and in The Retired Colourman.

David Lodge

1935-
Novelist
Resident
Brockley  

Born in Dulwich but the family moved to Brockley a year later. It appears as Brickley in some of his novels, principally The Picturegoers and Out of the Shelter.

Samuel Pepys

1634-1703
Diarist and civil servant
Visitor
Deptford  

Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board in 1660, Secretary to the Admiralty in 1673 and Secretary for Admiralty Affairs in 1682. Elected MP in 1673. President of the Royal Society 1684 and 1685. Visited Deptford Dockyard in connection with his Navy work.

John Evelyn

1620-1706
Diarist
Resident
Deptford  

A famous diarist and writer. From 1652 to 1694 lived at Sayes Court. Extended and improved the house and gardens. Involved in the rebuilding of St Nicholas. Encouraged rebuilding in the Deptford High Street and New Cross areas.

E.W. Swanton

1907-2000
Cricket writer and broadcaster
Born in Forest Hill

E.W. Swanton was a famous cricket journalist who wrote more than twenty books about the game, as well as being a recognisable voice on the BBC as a cricket commentator.

Contact

Library Service
London Borough Of Lewisham Second Floor
Laurence House
1 Catford Road
Se6 4ru
Tel:
03333 704 700

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