A Literary Journey in England by Rosemary Lord

06694-rosemaryatburbanklibraryjpgRosemary wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House!

She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now,  English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.

A Literary Journey

I didn’t intend it this way. It just happened. I was visiting my family in England on what, I reflected later, turned into a very literary journey. ……

Firstly, as I travelled the tube (subway), trains and buses, I was surprised to see so many passengers reading. Actual books. Hard backs and paperbacks – and some kindles. Ian McEwan, John Grisham, John Le Carre,  Lee Childs, Linda Green were some authors I noticed. On a lighter side were Santa Montefiore, JoJo Moyes, Dawn French and Fiona Gibson. An interesting, different selection from what we see in L.A.

A stop British Library on Euston Road, where purses or bags go in a locker. No pens/pencils allowed either – in case you have an urge to doodle on the Gutenberg Bible.

Catching up with my friend Marie Rowe, we wandered around Seven Dials, near Covent Garden. Agatha Christie wrote, The Mystery of Seven Dials. Then to Foyle’s Bookshop, famous for Literary Luncheons. Moved down the road from its’ 100 year old,  rickety, wood-lined shop, it now gleams white and chrome and boasts 4 miles of book shelves. Across the road is the site of Marks and Co, the antiquarian bookshop star of the movie 84 Charing Cross Road. It closed in 1970 and is now a MacDonald’s.

limehouse
A Limehouse victim?

My brother Ted and I took the Docklands Light Railway to Limehouse in London’s East End. The setting for many historic mysteries, Limehouse – on the northern banks of the Thames – is the former site of China Town and opium dens. Remember the jazzy Limehouse Blues? Thomas Burke wrote Limehouse Nights, Dickens set books here and Peter Ackroyd  wrote Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem.

The Docklands were reclaimed and developed in the 1980 s  with smart high-rises and apartments. Vintage narrow-boats moor next to fancy yachts.

Walking back along the Thames, the river bank is littered with flotsam and jetsam – where many literary bodies are washed up. The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping was a  smugglers’ haunt. Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens imbibed here. On the sands behind, the gibbet where pirates were hung, remains. Further along, at London Bridge, are Nancy’s Steps, where Dickens had Bill Sykes chase poor Nancy in Oliver Twist.

Another day took us to Oxford, setting for Colin Dexter’s novels about Inspector Morse – and the historic Bodleian Library.

Next, a family outing to Rudyard Kipling’s House, Batemans, in Sussex. He was 36 and world-famous when he found this 33 acre estate. Now a National Trust property, we saw the room where he wrote the Just So Stories, Kim, Puck of Pook’s Hill and more. His large writing table overlooks a serene garden. His Nobel Prize on the mantle-shelf, the faded sofa is where Kipling lay in writing mode. Inspired, he would jump up and hand-write pages. His secretary would later type out his words on the small portable typewriter that sits on a side desk.

He wrote The Jungle Book when he lived in Virginia with his American-born wife, Caroline. Kipling was born in India, his great inspiration.

England was freezing, so my siblings and I flew to sunnier climes in the Peloponnese, Greece. Perfect, sunny weather. We visited the village where Nicolas Katzenzakis wrote the book based on local character, Zorba, who found celluloid fame with an iconic dance on the beach.

We visited the house of the late English writer and war hero, Patrick Leigh Furmor. ‘Paddy’ wrote successful books about The Mani, this area of southern Greece. The film Ill Met By Moonlight, starring Dirk Bogard, was about his wartime heroics.  His overgrown, red-tiled villa on a pebbly beach off the beaten track, is presently being prepared to open as a museum.

I could go on. It was a wonderful trip and over too soon. But I returned to Hollywood with a case full of books and a replenished Kindle. Travel is supposed to broaden the mind. For me, it feeds my soul.

10 thoughts on “A Literary Journey in England by Rosemary Lord”

  1. What a fascinating journey, Rosemary–thanks for taking us along. Four miles of bookshelves? Fantastic. I enjoyed stepping outside my normal world to visit these sites with you.

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  2. I enjoyed your column immensely. Add ‘travel writer’ to your list of accomplishments, for you made the journey come alive for me and other readers of this blog. Thanks for the vicarious trip, and welcome home!

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