London has always been an inspiration for all kinds of art, including literature. Many writers have used the attractions and streets of the city as a setting for the lives of their protagonists.
If you are one of the many who dream of traveling or moving to London and want to learn more about London before you go why not read some of these great books to prepare for your trip?
There are thousands of books that have London as their setting, and I would say that it is almost impossible not to have never read one of them.
This list includes both fiction and non-fiction titles for adults as well as some popular novels that should appeal to everyone. Here are the best books set in London that will transport you there!
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Novels and Fiction Set in London
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
If you want to read a great novel set in London, this is a good option. It is the fourth novel by the English writer, published in 1925.
The story tells in parallel the lives of Miss Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman, and Warren, a First World War veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress. Everything happens during a single day in 1923.
On one hand, you attend the preparations for the protagonist’s meeting at her house in Westminster, and on the other, you witness Warren’s psychological discomfort.
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This is one of the best books set in London and its iconic Baker Street. Through these pages, Holmes and his friend, Dr. Watson, will walk the streets of a Victorian London turned into a labyrinth of false leads.
He faces all kinds of mysteries and crimes, leaving the reader immersed in an explosive mix of crime, suspense, and revenge.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Dickens recreates the beginnings of the social and political revolt of the French Revolution. The story takes place between London and Paris. Want more books set in Paris?
The first city symbolizes in some way peace and tranquility, simple and orderly life; while the second represents turmoil, challenge, and chaos. And the conflict between two worlds in a time when drastic social changes are announced.
The acts of violence carried out by the French people at the beginning of and during the revolution are among the most memorable scenes in the book. Dickens rejects revolutionary violence in its two forms, both in its popular form, by the masses, and in its institutionalized form, such as terror.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
This novel is a classic of English literature, an extremely emotional story that allows you to feel the characters and makes you discover life in England through the eyes of an innocent child who will be corrupted by society.
Oliver Twist is an orphan boy who must start earning a living on his own from a very young age, he is employed and mistreated at a funeral home, from where he decides to escape to London.
In the big city, he joins a gang of child thieves who are forced to steal for Fagin, until Oliver is injured in a robbery, and his life changes forever.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
In this book, you will feel as confused as if you were Richard Mayhew himself, a normal man who lives in London, who has plans, a girlfriend, a job, and who considers himself happy.
One day, overnight, he will find himself trapped underground in London where he will have to embark on a journey to be able to recover his life and where he will discover that world full of magical beings and unknown dangers. This urban fantasy novel was published in 1996 and republished in 2015.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
This novel was translated into more than 20 languages, it is a classic that teaches us about the power of the word and the value of literature as a refuge and consolation in difficult times.
It is set in a past London that was devastated by the terrible wounds of the Second World War, both the streets are littered with rubble and its inhabitants trying to continue their pre-war routines.
While touring Britain to launch her new book, writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger living on the island of Guernsey who is reading a book by Charles Lamb that had previously belonged to Juliet.
From the exchange of correspondence, Juliet learns about the literary society, which was created in difficult circumstances of the war and she is invited to participate in it, this meeting will give life to her new novel.
1984 by George Orwell
One of the most shocking dystopias of this century is this work by George Orwell.
London, the year is 1984, in a world in a constant war between the 3 superpowers that dominate the map: Eurasia, Oceania, and East Asia.
Winston Smith, an official who works in one of the Ministries in which the government of London is divided and, who serve to obey the will of the Party, decides to rebel against this totalitarian government that controls each of the movements of its citizens and punishes even those who commit crimes with their thoughts.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Since its publication year, 1813, this work by Austen has not ceased to captivate readers of different generations.
It is a portrait and a social critique of the world in which Jane Austen lived, some of the issues it deals with are the class difference in Victorian England, the exaggerated dependence of women on men, the pressure of marriage, and the economic and social difficulties that love has to face.
The novel depicts about a year in the life of a group of young people living in the country near London at the turn of the century (from the 18th to the 19th), and with the arrival of the rich and handsome Mr. Darcy in their region, the lives of the Bennets and their five daughters are turned upside down.
London by Edward Rutherfurd
If history is what interests you most, this novel is like taking a walk through two thousand years of London history with the help of an archaeologist who uncovers the history of this city layer by layer.
The main protagonist is the city of London itself, and within this novel, there is everything: the history of the Celts, Romans, Normans, the construction of emblematic buildings, the passage of figures such as Shakespeare or the different kings, the fire of 1666, plagues, wars, invasions…
Non-Fiction Books About London
Londoners by Craig Taylor
If you want to know London told by Londoners themselves, I recommend you read this book. The book portrays the city through 80 stories containing stories, complaints, memories, and dreams of London men and women. It is a celebration of one of the most wonderful cities in the world.
A People’s History of London by Lindsey German and John Rees
This chronicle tells the story of London’s rebellions and riots, the forgotten story of the world’s capital of the revolution.
For nearly 2,000 years, the city has been home to radical ideas, thinkers, heretics, and rebels, from John Wycliffe to Karl Marx. It has been the site of clashes that changed the course of history, such as the Levellers’ freedom fight after the Civil War or the Battle of Cable Street.
London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd has masterfully succeeds in transmitting to readers a genuine and intense passion for London.
Through a surprising tour of its history, which does not shy away from the darkest episodes, the most dangerous neighborhoods, or the darkest and least known aspects.
Ackroyd uses his brilliant prose to shed light on a city characterized by mist and to show us even its most peculiar details.
Children’s Books Set in London
Mice in the City: London by Ami Shin
If what you are looking for is a fun book for children, this is a good option. Play and learn with the London mice: those dressed in elegant clothes on their way to work, those who are baking cakes or fishing, or the artistic ones who perform magic tricks.
Each page is full of surprises and the illustrations are a wonderful way to discover the most famous monuments of London.
Young Adult Books Set in London
A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria E. Schwab
This is the first book in a trilogy. Set in a different London depending on the universe…
There is a Gray London, without magic. A Red London, where life and magic are honored and where Kell comes from, and a White London, where the fight to control magic left the city in ruins. And long ago, there was also a Black London, but nobody mentions it anymore.
The main character is Kell and he has the ability to travel from one world to another. Officially he is responsible for carrying correspondence between the nobles of each London, but unofficially he is a smuggler in the service of those willing to pay for items from worlds they will never see.
Between these trips, a thief and a mysterious character will intervene who will bring out a dangerous magic that will endanger all the universes.
Although it is aimed at young people, do not rule it out if you are passionate about fantasy.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices Series)
It tells the story of Tessa Gray, who travels to London to live with her brother but is captured by a secret organization until the Shadowhunters rescue her.
The rest of the book is based around her discovering the Shadow world and making a life with the new people she encounters.
Fantastic beings, modern London, a love triangle, and mysteries to solve in a story that you won’t be able to stop reading.
More In The Infernal Devices Series:
Have you read any of these books set in London? Do you have any favorite books set in London that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
Plan Your Visit To London
Once you’ve read some of the books on this list, you’ll be excited to visit London. If so, you’ll want to check out the following.
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