Books

Top 5 books set in historic London, selected by author Mike Delaney

From the horrors of war to the difficulties of settling as an immigrant, London's history provides ample subject matter for fiction

Black and white photo of horse bus in trafalgar square

A horse omnibus in Trafalgar Square, c. 1890. Image: Commons CC0

The rich history of London has inspired countless novels, author and therapist Mike Delaney gives us five of his favourites.

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon

This award-winning novel describes the fictional but authentic experiences of a group of West Indians living in London in the 1950s and tackles issues such as racism, loneliness and belonging, through the eyes of each character.

The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

A captivating story which weaves back and forth between present day and 1940s London. An antiques dealer finds a diary dating back to World War II and is drawn into the story of a young woman who was a gunner girl during the Blitz.

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Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Set in Victorian London, this is a complex story of an orphan filled with deception, betrayal and unexpected twists as she tries to secure her financial future through a swindle. But it doesn’t all go as she had hoped.

Island Songs by Alex Wheatle

A skilfully crafted story depicting the experiences of two Caribbean sisters as they navigate a new life in Brixton, South London, and the various difficulties which their relationship must endure in order to survive.

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

An emotional story based on true events prior to World War II. Truus Wijsmuller is in the Dutch Resistance and goes to great lengths to help as many Jewish children as she can escape from Nazi Germany, risking her own life in the process.

Mabel Murphy by Mike Delaney is out now (Austin Macauley, £8.99). You can buy some of these titles from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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