Shoreditch offers best value for literary Londoners

John Hewitt Jones

October 4, 2016

books

Shoreditch is the most affordable area for London literature lovers to live in, according to estate agent Marsh & Parsons.

The Big Smoke has provided a backdrop for literature across the ages, stretching from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales to Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

The neighbourhood of Shoreditch is the most affordable area uncovered, with average prices of £729,807, according to the estate agent.

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The area was immortalised in Monica Ali’s 2003 hit Brick Lane, and a number of novels have been written about areas nearby, including Martin Amis’s London Fields, and Peter Ackroyd’s The Clerkenwell Tales.

Notting Hill is the most expensive location, according to their research. Property in the exclusive enclave is worth an average of £2,071,429 – a far cry from the Notting Hill portrayed in Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners in 1956 where “the Gate” is a down-at-heel area, offering newcomers to the City cheap lodgings.

London has provided the backdrop for thousands of novels since time immemorial, with other notable mentions of the capital including North Kensington (average price: £1,373,036) in Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes (1959), Westminster (£1,353,750) in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925), Clapham (£987,286) in The End Of The Affair (Graham Greene – 1951) and Balham (£801,667) in Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001).

Charles Dickens and George Orwell set many of their novels in the mean streets of London and, in more recent years the capital has provided the backdrop for narratives by Nick Hornby, Sebastian Faulks and Zadie Smith.

David Brown, chief executive at Marsh & Parsons, said: “As a global epicentre of some renown, it’s unsurprising that thousands of authors have chosen London as the backdrop for their novels. Each neighbourhood has its own unique character, so a capital city as vast and diverse as London provides ample ammunition for writers seeking striking settings. Of course, due to this prestige, living in London comes at a cost and homebuyers looking to follow in the footsteps of their literary heroes will have to pay for the privilege.

“Modern-day London is as far removed from the city portrayed by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist and Bleak House as to feel like a different metropolis altogether. But as esteemed as London is, there are still affordable opportunities for those who aren’t pre-occupied with the most prestigious postcodes. Shoreditch and the surrounding areas have a number of advantages such as enviable transport links and a stellar cultural and arts scene and they can also add literary landmark to the long list of plus points. The average property value may be in excess of £700,000 due to some luxury properties at the higher end, but more modest flats are available for a fraction of that price.”

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