A self-guided literary stroll through Pimlico and Chelsea
1/ Joseph Conrad 18 Gillingham Street:
Joseph Conrad lived here when he was writing his most famous work, Heart of Darkness, a disturbing tale based on his experiences in the Belgian Congo. He is widely recognised as one of England’s most influential modern writers although his first language was Polish.
2/ Ian Fleming 22 Ebury Street:
“The name’s Bond. James Bond.” The author of the most famous spy in literature was actually recruited to be in the secret service while living here. Maxwell Knight (thought to be the model for Fleming’s wily spymaster, M) was a resident of Dolphin Square.
3/ Vita Sackville-West 182 Ebury Street:
A central player in the Bloomsbury set, the infamous group of artists who lived in squares and loved in triangles, writer, gardener and bohemian Sackville-West gave birth to her son Nigel Nicholson, also an accomplished writer, whilst living on Ebury Street.
4/ George Eliot 4 Cheyne Walk:
Mary Anne Evans, author of Middlemarch and better known by her pen name George Eliot, moved to this gracious Chelsea mansion for its river location and ‘views over the meadows beyond’ in her own words. Sadly, she died just three weeks later from a chill.
5/ Oscar Wilde 34 Tite Street:
“The man who can dominate a London dinner table can dominate the world.” So claimed famous wit, writer and gay icon Oscar Wilde, who wrote all his most famous works and faced one of the most notorious trials of all time while living on Chelsea’s Tite Street.