Introduction – High Life v Low Life
Battling for the literary soul of London we have two talented teams of scribes. First, let us introduce High Life, a group of writers apparently united in the desire to portray London as a glittering playground for the rich and cultured.
Lining up to rough them up a bit is the Low Life sect, a load of word smiths keen to hammer on the door of respectability by revealing the soiled underbelly of the city.
High Lifers range from PG Wodehouse with his delicious upper crust lampoonery to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose pipe smoking/coke snorting detective Sherlock Holmes has come to exemplify a certain kind of disinterested Englishness the world over.
Low Life types include the master himself Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Martin Amis and Hanif Kureishi, who managed to extend the definition of low life into the no-man’s land that is suburbia.
In this unique LondonNet guide, we’ve gone for a double top ten. One list picks out a decile of famous books that reflect the major themes of Literary London. The other goes walkies around the capital on a sole sapping search for booky craic.