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Regent's Park and Primrose Hill in Literature and Music
Authors - A to D

Aboulela, Leila
Adams, Douglas (P)
Adams, Francis (1885)
Afolabi, Segun
Ahmed, Iqbal
Ainsworth, William Harrison (1842)
Angerstein, Reinhold Rücker (1753)
Anonymous (1827)
Anonymous - A.B. (1749)
Anonymous – B (1830)
Anonymous – Gardener's Chronicle (1863)
Anonymous - A Gentleman of London (1747)
Anonymous – The Gentleman's Magazine (1792)

Anonymous – The People's Paper (1856)
Anonymous – Punch or The London Charivari (1852)
Anonymous - A Seven Year's Absentee (1822)
Anonymous – The Southern Monthly Magazine (1863)
Anstey, F. (1886)
Arlincourt, Vicomte Charles D' (1844)
Armistead, Wilson (1891)
Auden, W.H. (P)
Audubon, John James (1898)
Babson, Marian
Baker, Kage
Barnacle, Hugo
Barrett Browning, Elizabeth (1846)
Barron, Donald
Bauer, Karoline (1829)
Beasley (1836)
Beckett, Samuel
Bell, Deborah
Bennett, Alan (P)
Berkeley, Grantley Fitzhardinge (c1850)
Biggins, Christopher
Black, William (1878)
Blake, Nicholas
Blake, William (c1800) (P)
Bloom, William (P)
Boswell, James – see Johnson
Bowen, Elizabeth
Boyle, John, Earl of Cork (1754) (P)
Boyt, Susie
Brason, Gill
Brittain, Vera
Broady, Bill (P)
Brookner, Anita
Brooks, Kevin
Brophy, Brigid
Bryant, William Cullen (1845)
Buchan, John
Burney, Frances (1778)
Buxton, Bertha H. (1880) (P)
Cairncross, John
Campanella, Giuseppe Maria (1875) (P)
Carlyle, Liz
Cartwright, Justin
Casanova, Giacomo (1763)
Cautious, Prudence (1738)
Chaney, Jill (P)
Charles, Gerda
Charles, Paul (P)
Chesterton, G.K.
Clairmont, Clara Mary Jane (1814) (P)
Coe, Jonathan
Coleridge, Nicholas
Collins, Norman
Collins, Wilkie (1852)
Connolly, J.J.
Cooper, James Fenimore (1828)
Coren, Alan (P)
Couchman, Obadiah (1641)
Craig, Amanda (P)
Craik, Mrs. (1852)
Culme-Seymour, Angela
Cusk, Rachel
Custance, Olive (P)
Dare, Bill (P)
Davidson, John (1893) (P)
Dickens, Charles (1833)
Dickens, Charles Culliford Boz (1888)
Digby, Edward (1805) (P)
Digby, Kenelm Henry (1866) (P)
Disraeli, Benjamin (1830)
Dixon, Ella Hepworth (1894)
Docherty, David
Downing, A.J. (1850)
Doyle, Conan (1893)
Drabble, Margaret
Du Maurier, Daphne





Minaret. Bloomsbury, 2005.
'I had been pushing Mai on the swing and he appeared with his rucksack as if it is natural for him on his way home to look in on us in Regent's Park...Mai walks over to the sandpit. I help her take off her shoes and she starts playing with a little boy. His Sri Lankan nanny sits on the edge of the sandpit holding a Tupperware box of rice in one hand, a spoon in the other. She feeds him while he scoops sand with a spade...Tamer moves away from the swing and sits on a nearby bench' (p.107-109).

The narrator, Najwa, is working as a nanny for a Sudanese family and a romance is developing with Tamer, Mai's youthful uncle.

'It starts to rain, a few drops that look dark on the red safety tiles under the see-saw. Tamer looks up at the sky. He seems more relaxed than the other day when we met in the street. He might not know it but it is safe for us in playgrounds, safe among children. There are other places in London that aren't safe, where our very presence irks people' (p.111).

On a later visit to the park Tamer proposes marriage – "It's not very Islamic for a man and woman to be friends" – but walks off in a huff when the shock of it makes her laugh (p.210-213)


The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. 1988. Reprinted in The Dirk Gently Omnibus. William Heinemann, 2001.
'She hailed a taxi and sat in the back with her eyes closed most of the way back to her home in Primrose Hill...On one occasion she had gone to this corner of the park and walked around the invisible perimeter that marked out the limits of what she could see, and had come very close to feeling that this was her own domain. She had even patted the plane trees in a proprietorial sort of way, and had then sat beneath them watching the sun going down over London – over its badly spoiled skyline and its non-delivering pizza restaurants – and had come away with a profound sense of something or other, though she wasn't quite certain what' (p.66-67).

Kate has just discharged herself from hospital after an act of god at Terminal Two, Heathrow, sent the check-in desk shooting through the roof in a ball of orange flame. So much for her offer to help Thor get a ticket to Oslo. But the God of Thunder hasn't finished with her yet. He needs to get back to Valhalla, and Primrose Hill is the ideal spot to launch his second attempt.

'The park was closed for the night, but Thor leapt quickly over the spiked railings and then lifted her over in turn as lightly as if she had been a bunch of flowers. The grass was damp and mushy, but still worked its magic on city feet. Kate did what she always did when entering the park, which was to bob down and put the flats of her hands down on the ground for a moment. She had never quite worked out why she did this, and often she would adjust a shoe or pick up a piece of litter as a pretext for the movement, but all she really wanted was to feel the grass and the wet earth on her palms' (p.188-189).


A Child of the Age. 1894. Garland, 1977.
'Generally, in the late afternoon I went out for a walk into the Regent's Park, feeling as if I were away from the streets and the life-worn people there. Many happy hours were spent by me wandering whistling over the middle grass plateau (it seemed to me like a plateau), thinking of my work and, sometimes, of the dear woman to whom some day I should tell all of this...I was very fond of wandering by night: especially to the top of Primrose Hill, to look out over the great city, and the rings of light closer to, as in a vestibule-court of an almost boundless palace-building' (p.71-72).

Returning home from his walk Bertie is in time to rescue a fellow lodger, Rosy, from being evicted for non-payment of rent, thereby winning her devotion as well as her gratitude. Hard up himself - a poet who cannot find a publisher - he finally takes a job as secretary to a gentleman travelling abroad. Now he has to break the news to Rosy, and suggests they go for a walk.

'We were half-way up Primrose Hill: when all at once I remembered a certain bench not far from the top, by which I had on a certain night stood and looked out over the darkness from which came the cool breeze fanning my feverish cheek...I led her a little round then up to it. And we sat down upon it together and talked softly' (p.97).

Leicester: An Autobiography. George Redway, 1885. 2 vols.
Despite its title this is a novel, an earlier version of A Child of the Age: longer and with a different ending. There are two passages which were deleted from the later work:

'[I] passed out of a somewhat dirty road, through the gates, and so over the two bridges into the Park itself. I sauntered along the side of the lake, looking at the swans and ducks. It was a glorious morning. The sun breathed a gentle heat upon me, and warmed me gratefully. The dew was still on the grass: a few people hurried across by pathways; every now and then a duck whirred through the air. At last I reached another bridge, went onto it, and stood and watched a flight of birds bathing themselves wantonly in the shallows of a small bay on the far shore...I ate my dates and loaf on a seat behind, or rather beside, a tree on an elevation that runs up there and along parallel to the curve of the lake' (vol.1, p.171).

'It was a few days after this that Rosy and I went our second evening walk together...We went up to the top of Primrose Hill again, and I snuffed in the breeze and was somewhat revived; but (it had been raining heavily earlier in the day) that made me appreciate how stickily muddy it was going down, and I was forthwith driven into a state of utter saplessness and disgust' (vol.2, p.10).


Monday Morning from The Obituary Tango: a selection of works from the Caine Prize for African Writing. New Internationalist Publications Ltd., 2006.
'"I want to piss," the boy said in their language...The mother scanned the area, but she could not find a place for her son; there were too many people beside the trees, talking, laughing...The boy and his father hurried towards the lake. The father was glad to see that his son could find relief. They did not notice how people looked at them with their mouths turned down. Sour. The eyes narrowed to slits. The breeze blew and the ducks and swans floated past. The boy was afraid of them, but his need to evacuate was too urgent. Steam rose from the stream that emerged from him as it fell into the water, and he marvelled at this. There was so much to understand that was new here' (p.9).

The boy and his family are staying at a hostel after fleeing the violence of their own country. 'The sign at the building read Hotel Excelsior, but this was not a hotel...The linen was stained with the memory of previous guests, the rooms sang with the clamour of too many people.' An outing to the park provides some respite.

'They joined the people on the path as they strolled though Regent's Park...A breeze gathered up leaves and pushed the crowds along. A clump of clouds dragged across the sun. People pulled their clothes tight around themselves. The mother adjusted her scarf so there were no spaces for the wind to enter...She shoved her mittened hand back into her coat pocket and watched the children as they drifted away. After a moment she called, "Ernesto, come away from there," to her eldest boy. They had wandered towards an area where people were playing a game with a ball and a piece of wood, and she did not want there to be any trouble' (p10).


Sorrows of the Moon: A Journey Through London. Coldstream Publishers, 2004.
'We all took a walk towards Regent's Park, passing the patina-coloured dome of the planetarium before we reached York Gate, leading to the outer circle of the park. The cream-coloured villas were intruded upon by a modern-looking concrete building..."The Royal College of Physicians". A lady wearing a sari emerged from the building. The lawns in front of the terraces had been mown by gardeners, giving the air a smell of freshly cut grass...Shireen chose a spot by a rose garden for all of us to sit down and spread out a blanket on the grass. She had also brought some snacks and savouries' (p.130).

A picnic has been arranged as an opportunity for some 'oriental-style matchmaking...Mariam, who had never met Hassan before, cast furtive glances at him...Perhaps she knew that they were going to be left alone in due course. And sure enough, Abbas and Shireen announced that they wanted to go for a stroll around the park'.

The author volunteers to join them. 'We walked towards the other side of the park. An armed policeman stood outside a villa in the park holding a gun close to his chest. I could see from a certain distance that an American flag was flying at an acute angle on top of the entrance of the villa' (p.131). Enquiring a few days later, Ahmed learns that the suitor had ruined his chances when he asked Mariam how much she earned.


The Miser's Daughter. 1842. Routledge & Sons, 1906.
'Carriages, coaches and chairs were setting down their occupants at the entrance to the gardens, as Mr. Cripps and his companion drew near. Never had Mrs. Nettleship seen a gayer thing - the dresses she thought magnificent...The main walk was completely thronged, and presented the appearance of the Mall at high tide, while all the boxes and alcoves were filled with persons discussing bowls of punch, plates of ham, chickens, salads, and other good things. The band in the orchestra was excellent, and the lovely airs and symphonies added to the excitement and spirit of the scene. Mr. Cripps created a great sensation. Many persons thought they had seen him before, but no-one could tell who he was...'(p.177-178).

What they had seen before was his finery: Cripps has taken advantage of his master's absence to dress up in Mr. Villiers's most magnificent suit of clothes for a visit to Marylebone Gardens. His intention is to persuade Mrs. Nettleship, a wealthy widow, of his desirability as a husband; leading her to a secluded spot he is about to propose when his master appears. The valet begs him not to spoil his chances; Villiers good-naturedly agrees, but adds, '"Get you gone instantly: if I find you in the gardens in ten minutes from this time, you shall have the caning you merit."' (p.181).


R.R. Angersteins's Illustrated Travel Diary, 1753-1755. Trans. T. and P. Berg. Science Museum, London, 2001.
'Marylebone pleasure gardens. Upon arrival in St. James's Park, we alighted from the carriage and went to Marylebone to see the amusements put on here for the last time this year, consisting of music, illuminations and fireworks. The entrance fee was 1 shilling and 6 pence. Poles carrying illuminated lanterns bordered the walk around the rotunda. A large number of people were to be seen here, particularly young women and girls, who tried to charm the men present with their clothes and the way they walked. The music was nothing special, and the singing consisted largely of English arias. This lasted until ten o'clock, when a small fireworks display was set off, after which we went home' (p.9).

The author, from a family of well-to-do ironmasters, had left his native Sweden on what was ostensibly an 'extended duty tour' to study mining. He arrived in London in September 1753 and stayed for several months: not the most obvious place to learn about mining but useful for perfecting his English. Writing two years earlier, Tobias Smollett had said that Marylebone Gardens were 'frequented by the best company in town' (The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle), but one wonders about those female charmers.


May Fairy. A Poem. 1827.
'...Whirl to the West, you find the park
But turn'd a fuller Noah's ark...
There, Nash, thy plaster town aspires –
Retreat of Moorfields and Black Friars.
The stucco fine, the gravel finer;
The lamps divine, the lake diviner.
The whole affair superbly pretty!
The whole – the trader and his city.
There pant, uneasy for their life,
Fat pair, the alderman and his wife...'

The poem is preceded by an editorial comment: 'The description of the present state of the Regent's Park is a specimen of double-refined horror of the author's contact with cits...' The text is taken from a cutting, Item A1X22, in the Heal Collection at Camden Local Studies Centre. The title and date are hand-written at the side of the poem; there is no indication of the source.


The Prospect From Primrose Hill. The Gentleman's Magazine, June 1749.

'Stella, my Muse! whose beauty prompts the song,
To whom the poet and the lays belong...
To Primrose Hill lead on the flow'ry way,
And thence the matchless scenes around survey.
Mean while the Muse shall sing, with fond surprise,
The various prospects, as by turns they rise...

But where, entranc'd, shall I begin the lay?
Where Phoebus' dancing beams reflected play;
From Highgate's shining villas, tow'ring high,
That pierce the clouds, and seem to touch the sky;
Or where fair Hampstead's shaded beauties dawn,
Like Stella's bosom, thro' the op'ning lawn:
Where Kent and Surrey's pleasant hills arise,
Or spire-crown'd Harrow strikes my roving eyes;
Which way soe'ere I shift the pleasing view,
The charms, tho' equal, vary'd still, are new...'


Metropolitan Melodies – No. 1 in The British Magazine, January to June 1830.

'The Regent's Park, the Regent's Park!
Shall mountain, mead, and dale,
That long have been the chosen scene
Of each romantic tale –
Shall these be still the favourite views
That bards and artists mark?
Or shall this rhyme become sublime,
And sing the Regent's Park?

On Grecian or Italian shores
Some seek the mouldering pile;
And others walk to make in chalk
A drawing of the Nile.
Yet here's a rare and rich canal
Whose source is far less dark;
And as for Rome, oh! Stay at home,
And paint the Regent's Park

I love the smaller circle's walk,
And, while the verdure shields
One's face from sun, to hunt for fun
In those Elysian fields.
To see the nursery-maid attract
Some coxcomb of a clerk;
To hear him praise her air, her stays,
And then the Regent's Park [...]'

A total of 15 verses making gentle fun of the Park. The source of the Nile, alluded to in the second verse, was still a mystery.


The Gardener's Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette. 15th August 1863.
'Once upon a time, a pedestrian, happening to find himself, some sultry summer's day, in the neighbourhood of the Regent's Park, and desirous of pleasant exercise while inhaling the cool and freshening breezes which he might hope to find sweeping down from Primrose Hill, could have strolled the whole length of the park from south to north – a goodly promenade – under the shade of lines of trees of, we suppose, some 40 years' growth. On either side of a gravel walk of noble proportions, he would have found Horse Chestnuts, Limes, and Elms in quadruple ranks, forming three umbrageous avenues, with seats at intervals, the trees always furnishing a most refreshing shade, and at certain seasons superadding a most delicious sweetness.'

All that was to change when the Commissioner of Works appointed William Nesfield 'to design formal gardens and open up avenues and vistas, presumably in an attempt to make the park more accessible to the public' (Nina Gibbs James-Fowler, Landscape into Architecture. University of London, 1997, p.105). There were gains as well as losses, the anonymous author acknowledged. 'The change principally consists in turning the most attractive parts of the Park into beautiful garden walks...The large Chestnut trees which lined the path have been cut down, and in their stead, the ground has been attractively laid out, and filled with the choicest shrubs and flowers.'

But the promenade was sorely missed. 'Instead therefore of sauntering down the leafy avenues, as of yore, the poor pedestrian, while panting for a cooling breeze as SOL darts down his fiery rays, is doomed to drag himself along the glaring expanse of hot and dusty or shingly gravel...while as compensation for the loss of shade he is permitted to refresh his eyes while gazing on beds of blazing flowers and plantations of fancy shrubs, fenced in as if only a favoured few were to be admitted to approach them' (p.771)


The Tricks of the Town Laid Open OR A Companion for Country Gentlemen. 1747. Reprinted in Tricks of the Town; being Reprints of Three Eighteenth Century Tracts. Ralph Straus. Chapman & Hall, 1927.
'Bowling is a game for diversion, recreation and exercise...and was formerly a game for few but gentlemen, as that was; but as men and things are generally grown worse and worse, so is this too, and strangely degenerated from an innocent, inoffensive diversion to be a perfect trade, a kind of set calling and occupation for cheats and sharpers...If you please therefore we'll make a short trip to Marybone (for that's the chief place of rendezvous) the bowling greens having there in these latter years gained a kind of preheminence and reputation above the rest, and thither most of the noblemen and gentlemen about the town, that affect that sort of recreation, generally resort' (p.55).

The tract was written in the form of a series of letters 'from a Gentleman of London to his Friend in the Country, to disswade him from coming to town...' This is from Letter X.

'I have seen a hundred at a time at least following one block, and the greatest part of them, five to one, I'm confident, rooks and sharpers...They bet nothing but gold here, so that a man must have a good stock that pretends to embark with them...Marybone, as I told you, is the chief place about town, but for all its greatness and preheminence, it lies under shrewd suspicion of being guilty of sharping and crimping as well as the rest' (p.55-56).


Domestic Occurrences in The Gentleman's Magazine, October 1792.
'Saturday Sept. 22. This being the day on which the autumnal equinox occurred, some Welsh Bards, resident in London, assembled in congress on Primrose Hill, according to ancient usage...The wonted ceremonies were observed. A circle of stones formed, in the middle of which was the Maen Gorsedd, or altar, on which a naked sword being placed, all the Bards assisted to sheathe it. The ceremony was attended with a proclamation, the substance of which was, that the Bards of the Island of Britain (for such is their ancient title) were the heralds and ministers of peace, and never bore a naked weapon in the presence of anyone...The Bardic tradition, and several odes, were recited.'

The author was anxious to explain that 'The Bardic Institution of the Ancient Britains, which is the same as the Druidic, has been from the earliest times, through all ages, to the present day, retained by the Welsh. Foreign writers, ancient and modern, have fallen into a great mistake, in considering the Bards and Druids as different orders; or, at least, as one subordinate to the other. This is very wrong' (p.956).

The ceremonies concluded, arrangements were made for next year. 'The subject proposed for an English Ode...is the resurrection of Rhitta Gawr. Rhitta Gawr was a famous chief of the Ancient Britons, who exterminated so many despots, that he made himself a robe of their beards' (p.957). A curious choice, one might think, for the ministers of peace.


Great National Demonstration Of Nearly One Million People
in The People's Paper. September 20, 1856.
'Such a demonstration as occurred on Monday last to welcome Mr. John Frost and ratify the principles of Chartism, London has probably never before witnessed. The mighty multitudes lining the streets, the vast numbers forming the cortege, and congregated in every available part along the extended line of the route, the dense mass cresting Primrose Hill, waiting the arrival of the Procession...are certainly unparalleled in the history of popular ovations, in this country at least.'

Chartism, which took its name from The People's Charter of 1838, was a mass working class movement for political and social reform. Frost, one of its leaders in Wales, had been transported to the penal colony in Australia for his part in a demonstration that had ended in bloodshed. When he returned 15 years later Chartism was a spent force, although one would never suspect it from this account in its weekly newspaper.

'One of the grandest sights of the kind perhaps ever held, was when the procession came in sight of Primrose Hill. We never shall forget the spectacle now displayed: the crowd lost to sight in the distance behind; the immense succession of banners; the boundless enthusiasm of the multitude...and in front the great hill crested and covered down half the descent, with a mass of people, over whom waved a solitary dark blue flag on the highest point, and from whom, like distant thunder, came a shout of greeting, as they caught sight of the head of the advancing line...At length the enormous masses settled into comparative quiet and Ernest Jones having been called by acclamation to preside, mounted on the shoulders of two stalwart working men, and began to address the crowd' (p.1).


Punch or the London Charivari. Vol. XXIII, 1852. Punch Publications Ltd.
'The Primrose-Hill Gold and Silver Mining Company...Abstract of Prospectus: The great absence of Gold in England has long been felt to be a general want. It is the object of this Company to supply that want. Public rumour has long pointed to Primrose Hill as being a mine of hidden wealth...Deposits have been found there of the richest description. Pieces of copper as big as a penny have been repeatedly picked up; and one old man recollects vividly, as if it were only yesterday, his finding a morçeau of gold, which, when washed from the earth matter that surrounded it, weighed not less than a sovereign.'

The Australian gold rush had started the previous year, with discoveries in New South Wales and Victoria. The ensuing frenzy had inspired several satirical pieces in the magazine.

'There has been a fortune lying at London's door, and for generations we have been doing nothing but kick it away. The Regent's Canal, at the foot of Primrose Hill, may also be a Pactolus that is actually running with streams of Gold, and we do not even send a bucket to help ourselves!...Future workings of Primrose Hill, however, may afford yet more outstanding revelations of its internal treasures. Something turns up every day to justify the most sanguine expectations that an El Dorado has really been discovered' (p.111).

The jokes in Punch drew on a wide range of literature. Ovid (43BC-17AD) had related the story of Pactolus, the golden river, in Book 11 of his Metamorphoses (King Midas had been told that if he bathed in the stream the disastrous power of turning everything into gold would pass into its waters). Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, first published in the year the gold rush had started, introduced the character of Mr. Micawber, who was constantly announcing his 'sanguine expectations' that something would 'turn up' (and eventually emigrated to Australia).


A Sabbath in London in The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal. London, July to December, 1822. Republished by Oliver Everett, Boston, 1822.
'I avoided the way to the lounging places, and strolled thoughtfully on to the Regent's park, near which I lost myself in a wilderness of cottages and villas that had sprung up like magic since my last visit to London. One little piece of classic curiosity here struck particularly my attention. It was a brass plate on a door, with the inscription Digamma Cottage which was chosen I suppose to puzzle the vulgar; while the [digamma symbol] placed above it, though comprehensible to the learned, serves only to announce to the common eye, through its resemblance to one of the characters of our alphabet [F], the name of the celebrated owner. This information I obtained from a butcher's boy who was passing, and who assured me that "the F stood for Foscolo, the great Italian poet, and that Digamma was the Latin for Die Game;" which proved what all the world said, that he was a true patriot into the bargain!' (vol.4, p.505-506).

The digamma was the sixth letter of the original Greek Alphabet (unfortunately I cannot reproduce it here); the cottage was named after an erudite article that the poet had written on that subject. See
the Foscolo entry for a description of life at the cottage, its extravagance and its nemesis.


Mrs. Simpkinson's Party in The Southern Monthly Magazine, September 1863. Reighton and Scales, Auckland, NZ.
'The Regent's Park...that grand resort of nursery-maids and Life Guardsmen from the Albany-street barracks, who seem, in conjunction with the wild beasts of the zoological, to have a monopoly of the park. On week-days it is deserted enough. A few perambulators are wheeled up under the shade, their contents being permitted to choke themselves quietly, whilst their attendant flirts with a red-jacketed giant; here and there may be seen some young ladies taking a morning's constitutional, whilst if any of the male sex (Life-guards exempted) be seen about, they are either taking a short cut through the park, or have come there with a felonious design upon some of its frequenters' (p.345-346).

In the Introduction to their new magazine the publishers 'especially welcomed contributions relating to this country,' but in the first issue many of them concerned the Old Country. Acknowledging the eminence of the English periodicals, they nevertheless trusted that 'the food for the imagination which our magazine will supply' would prove acceptable.

'If you are fond of a walk, for the walk's sake, no better place certainly can be found for it in town than the Regent's Park; we may presume it was this reason which induced the two Misses Simpkinson, on the morning following ...to enter its gates and turn down one of its most unfrequented avenues. This time, however, it was not altogether deserted, for some way up, lying lazily along a bench and smoking a cigar, was a young man of some eight-and-twenty or thereabouts...Perhaps he had found the air of the Regent's Park very reviving – perhaps it is no use conjecturing further, for as he sees the two young ladies approaching, he starts to his feet, runs forward to meet them' (p.346).

ANSTEY, F. (pseudonym of Thomas Anstey Guthrie)

A Fallen Idol. 1886. Reprinted in Humour and Fantasy, an omnibus edition of Anstey's popular fiction. John Murray, 1931.
'It was a lovely spring afternoon, with a balmy warmth in the air. The foliage generally was still sparse, and only the smaller trees had burst into leaf; but here and there the curving chestnut branches ended in a pale knob, and the bare outline of an elm was softened by a delicate mist of green. They were outside the ring of the Botanic Gardens before Campion told his story of defeat, and having begun, he told it manfully, beginning with his threatened legacy and ended with his Academy reverses...' (p.550).

The young portrait painter is convinced that the reverses, financial and professional, will have ruined his marriage prospects, but for Sybil perfect love casteth out worldly concerns.

'And so they walked on by the edge of the lake, where they had met once before, and all around them seemed in harmony with their own happiness. From the little suspension bridge came the lively clatter of feet over its planks, and the merry shouts of the ragged urchins sliding face downwards on its broad supports. Pleasure boats, propelled by various experimental methods, were splashing over the dark olive water, laced by amethyst ripples, and the waterfowl quacked and screamed with the delight of outwitting one another in the hunt for bread...For Campion, at least, Regent's Park was a paradise on that unforgettable afternoon, and everything in it was eloquent of the long happy summer that was at hand' (p.551).


The Three Kingdoms. Richard Bentley, 1844.
The French viscount and man of letters set off on a tour of the UK in 1843. Regent's Park, he decided, was his sort of place: 'a scene of enchantment, where we might fancy ourselves surrounded by the quiet charms of a smiling landscape, or in the delightful gardens of a magnificent country-house…' (p.24).

A fête champêtre in the gardens of the Royal Botanic Society sent him into raptures: 'Many of the English nobility were assembled in its shrubberies and parterres. This spot, filled with rare plants and curious shrubs, resembled a gigantic vase of flowers; the atmosphere exhaling a delicious fragrance re-echoed the harmonious sounds of military music. Here and there immense tents were erected in which were exhibited all the marvels of Flora. Not far from these were miniature lakes with pleasure boats, shell grottos, mountains and temples, ball-rooms roofed with canvass; then came flowers again, of all kinds in endless profusion; until, under the brilliant influence of the season, we felt our own hearts expand as if we too were growing young again' (p.25).


The Quakeress Bride in Tales and Legends of the English Lakes. 1891. EP Publishing Ltd., 1976.
'He rejoiced when the approach of evening allowed him to escape, and to accept the invitation of his friend, Charles Manson, to walk with him in the Regent's Park. Charles, who was some years his junior...was a youth of sanguine temperament - one of those who love to view things on their brightest side.'

Edward Fletcher has decided that it's time he got married, but has spent a sleepless night worrying about it. Charles, who hasn't been told of this momentous decision, chatters on regardless.

'The fineness of the weather, the number and gay appearance of the company in the Park...all tended to enliven him, and animated his converse. Scarcely an equipage rolled by, or a horseman passed them, without furnishing him with an occasion for an approving or satirical remark. Edward, however, seemed not to heed his observations...He passed in silence the various natural and architectural beauties of the place, on which he was accustomed to dilate. The fine Doric portico, and massive grandeur of the Colosseum, the splendid facade of Cumberland Place, the innumerable curiosities of the Zoological Gardens, and the rural loveliness of the wooded lake, were alike unheeded' (p.181). The scene continues to p.184.


Evening and Night on Primrose Hill. The Gresham, 16th December 1922.

'Splendid to be on Primrose Hill
At evening when the world is still!
And City men, in bowler hats, return now day is done,
Rejoicing in embers of the sun.

The City men they come, they go,
Some quick, some slow.
Then silence; the twinkling lights are lit upon the hill,
The moon stands over Primrose Hill.'

Auden was known to have written a poem about Primrose Hill while a pupil at Gresham's School in Norfolk, but it was long thought to be lost. In September 2007 it was discovered by the school's former Head of Arts, John Smart, in a copy of the school magazine; though unsigned, it is generally accepted to be one of the poet's earliest works. I am grateful to Mr. Smart for providing me with the text.


Audubon and His Journals. Maria Audubon. 2 Vols. J.C. Nimmo, 1898.
The artist and author of Birds of America was on a visit to Europe to sell his pictures, but felt 'unhappy and dull' in London and pined for home. On 22nd January 1828, after a bad night's sleep at his lodgings in Great Russell Street, he 'dressed and walked off in the dark to Regent's Park, led there because there are some objects in the shape of trees, the grass is green, and from time to time the sweet notes of a Blackbird strike my ear and revive my poor heart...As daylight came a flock of Starlings swept over my head, and I watched their motions on the green turf where they had alighted' (Vol.1, p.278).

Two days earlier he had visited the park and 'saw a large flock of Wild Ducks passing over me; after a few minutes a second flock passed over me…Two flocks of Wild Ducks, of upwards of twenty each! Wonderful indeed!' (Vol.1, p.277). On 2nd February he visited the Zoo. On 6th May, 'I walked early round the Regent's Park, and there purchased four beautiful little Redpolls from a sailor, put them in my pocket, and, when arrived at home, having examined them to satisfy myself of their identity with the one found in our country, I gave them all liberty to go. What pleasure they must have felt rising, and going off over London; and I felt pleasure too, to know they had the freedom I so earnestly desired' (Vol.1, p.298).


The Twelve Deaths of Christmas. William Collins, 1979.
'I have always loved Queen Mary's Rose Garden. Even at this time of year and after the sleet and snow of the other day, there are still brave blossoms clinging to the stems and proudly showing colour against the dull grey of earth and sky' (p.64).

On closer inspection the dull grey of the earth turns out to be 'an overlay of pulp and detritus – paper handkerchiefs, plastic coffee cartons' etc., including a metal ring-pull which the narrator slips on to her finger and sharpens with a nail file. It proves fatal to the drunken 'yobbo' who disturbs the peaceful scene with a blaring transistor: 'blood makes an excellent fertilizer for roses' (p.64-69). This is not the first of the twelve deaths: 'those small bodies lifted out of Regent's Park Lake had marked the beginning of the current bizarre series' (p.33).


The Graveyard Game. 2001. Tor Trade Paperback, 2003.
'The trees were still there, and so was Queen Mary's Garden; but its lawns hadn't been mown in years, so most of the park was hip-high weedy wilderness and young woodland. There were stories that tigers had been released into it when the London Zoo was closed down, and lurked in the tall grass even now, leaping out to eat the occasional homeless person...One could still stand in the middle of the footbridge and watch the swans gliding to and fro where there was open water, and this is what Joseph and Lewis were doing as they waited for Victor' (p.167).

The three men are cyborgs employed by Dr. Zeus Inc., a 24th century research and development firm that has invented a means of time travel. As a result 'the past could now be looted to increase corporate earnings', but at present Joseph is more concerned with personal matters. What he learns is disconcerting, and his informant is anxious to get away.

'He strode off in the direction of Chester Road. Joseph stood staring after him, openmouthed. Finally he shivered and looked around him at the abandoned pavilion and the high weeds, uncertain whether he heard a low staccato growl, caught a glimpse of striped flank. He set off for the Outer Circle, making his way along the overgrown path in some haste' (p.171).

The Life of the World to Come. Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, 2004.
'Folding up his map, Chatterji peered at the red words on the screen. Rutherford looked too. Their lips moved as they sounded them out. "Reg - " "Regent's Park," said Rutherford...They came round a corner and there was Regent's Park: acres of green and sunlight and birdsong, visible in glimpses between the tour transports that came and went. Staggering like cripples they approached it, uttering little cries of eagerness. "It's Olde England at last," gasped Rutherford, holding out his arms as though to embrace it all. Before him an industrial mower whirred busily along, shearing the grass to one precise height the full length of a long stripe exactly one metre wide. "Primeval Albion. The green and pleasant land"' (p.172-173).

Three time-travelling agents of Dr. Zeus Inc. have arrived in the London of 2350 with the task of creating a new kind of Immortal. Feeling the need for 'a bit more inspiration,' Rutherford has suggested that they emulate the sages of the past, who would go off on 'walking tours...stride out through the hedgerows, and meadows and animals and things. It'd give them lots of ideas' (p.154).

'Haltingly they moved along the sandy path...that took them to a real bridge over a real lake and beyond. They stood spellbound on the bridge a while, watching the waterfowl that paddled and fought. Rutherford quoted reverently from The Wind in the Willows. Drawn by the spell of wilderness they went on, and presently found a snack bar on the greensward. It wasn't exactly a cosy country tavern; it featured various treats manufactured from algae, and four varieties of distilled water...There was only a chilly outdoor seating area enclosed behind Plexiglas panels in which to sit, no snug nook beside a sea-coal fire. Imagination plastered over disappointment, however, and they enjoyed their meal' (p.173-174).


Day One. 1998. Quartet Books, 1999.
'Mattie in the Regent's Park walked slowly from the bandstand sorting all the notes and sketches that he'd taken in his head to put down later. There had to be enough room underneath the floor to put to use and that five-lever lock there on the access hatch was easily dealt with. The little signboard had those brackets, like for slotting in the odds at the races. So they must put the performances up there, but if that only happened on the day he'd have to watch and see how regular it was and who was playing. If he got the St John's Ambulance Brigade band by mistake or schoolkids the publicity could backfire' (p.45).

On the 2nd April 1982 a variety of people are going about their lawful and unlawful business. Mattie is a fictional character, but there was a real IRA plot to blow up the bandstand: it went into effect three months later, on the 20th July, killing seven military bandsmen. (See the Hames entry for a factual account of the aftermath of the explosion.) Mattie turns out to have an additional reason for visiting the park.

'He drew out from his parka pocket his expensive little green pair of binoculars and trained them on the island in the lake...It was nesting. On the big trees there. No sign of the other one. He watched, watched and was suddenly rewarded. The great S neck reared, the spear bill skyward, and the great grey wings and reedlike legs unfolded, and with a beat at first heavy but soon easier, near silent, the great ungainly beauty of a bird took flight. Mattie ogling a heron' (p.45-46).

Another character, walking across the park, encounters two rollerskaters showing off their skills in the Broad Walk (p.150), and has a confrontation with a squirrel (p.157-158).

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Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett – The Courtship Correspondence 1845-1846. Ed. Daniel Karlin. Clarendon Press, 1989.
The Barrett family lived in Wimpole Street near the park, and a visit accompanied by her sister Arabel was a welcome treat for the semi-invalid Elizabeth. Her father's disapproval meant that the courtship had to be conducted in secret.

In a letter of 29th May 1846 she wrote to Robert: 'Dearest, I committed a felony for your sake today - so never doubt that I love you. We went to the Botanical Gardens, where it is unlawful to gather flowers, and I was determined to gather this for you, and the gardeners were here and there…they seemed everywhere… but I stooped down and gathered it - Is it felony, or burglary on green leaves - or what is the name of the crime? Would the people give me up to the police I wonder? Transie de peur [overcome with fear], I was… listening to Arabel's declaration that all gathering of flowers in those gardens is highly improper, and I made her finish her discourse, standing between me and the gardeners…to prove that I was the better for it.

How pretty those gardens are, by the way! We went to the summerhouse and sate there, and then on, to the empty seats where the band sit on your high days. What I enjoy most to see, is the green under the green…where the grass stretches under trees. That is something unspeakable to me, in the beauty of it. And to stand under a tree and feel the green shadow of the tree! I never knew before the difference of the sensation of a green shadow and brown one – I seemed to feel that green shadow through and through me, till it went out at the soles of my feet and mixed with the other green below' (p.256).

Earlier, on 11th May, she had written: 'Look what is inside of this letter – look! I gathered it for you today while I was walking in the Regent’s Park. Are you surprised? Arabel and Flush [her dog] and I were in the carriage – and the sun was shining with that green light through the trees, as if he carried down with him the very essence of the leaves, to the ground…and I wished so much to walk through a half-open gate along a shaded path, that we stopped the carriage and got out and walked, and I put both my feet on the grass…which was the strangest feeling!...and gathered this laburnum for you. It hung quite high up on the tree, the little blossom did, and Arabel said that certainly I could not reach it – but you see! It is a too generous return for all your flowers: or, to speak seriously, a proof that I thought of you and wished for you – which was natural to do, for I never enjoyed any of my excursions as I did today’s – the standing under the trees and on the grass, was so delightful. It was like a bit of that Dreamland which is your special dominion…And all those strange people (flitting) moving about like phantoms of life – how wonderful it looked to me!...' (p.248-9).

Fortunately for other visitors these acts of vandalism ceased a few months later when the couple married and fled to Italy.

In The Great Folk of Old Marylebone (1904) Margaret Baillie-Saunders says that after receiving a number of letters from Robert urging marriage and elopement, Elizabeth drove to the park accompanied by her sister Arabel, 'alighted and walked on the grass and leaned against a tree, and looked long at the leaves and the sky, thinking. Then she went home and wrote off "Yes!"' (p.49). A.D. Webster (The Regent's Park and Primrose Hill, 1911) adds that 'Mrs. Baillie-Saunders told me that the tree was one of those growing in the park near York Gate, though the particular specimen is not known' (p.42).

See the Forster entry for a fictional account of these excursions (Lady's Maid), and the Woolf entry for a fictional account of what the dog thought of them (Flush).


The Man Who Was There. Chatto & Windus, 1969.
'On a November night, say, the park stilled by autumnal mist and the old-fashioned street lights like so many watery yellow moons, the faintly seen columned façade acquires a haunting beauty…' (p.23).

Michael Locke is on his way to the Canfield Foundation, a cultural institution that provides a cover for his intelligence work abroad. Like James Bond's Naval Intelligence HQ it is situated in the park: various Bond-like escapades follow. Another park description on p.142.


Memoirs of Karoline Bauer. Translated from the German. Remington & Co., 1885. 4 vols.
'It was growing dark when we arrived in Regent's Park, after having wound our way through endless gloomy, monotonous streets. I examined with curiosity the cottages, villas, and proud houses upon the magnificent terraces that were already partly lighted up, half-hidden under glorious old trees and blooming shrubberies. In the pond on the large grass lawn the first stars were glittering. Nightingales were singing from the bushes...At last we stopped in front of an iron railing, and through the trees we saw a charming little villa, brightly lit up' (vol.2, p.95).

The German actress was recalling her arrival on a spring evening in 1829 at the hideaway where she would await her marriage to Prince Leopold of Coburg (later King Leopold I of the Belgians). 'Our little villa was charming and neat as a jewel-casket, and nicely and cosily furnished with true English comfort...To this must be added a large parklike garden, with bright-green, velvet-soft turf, and a profusion of flowers...But how quiet it was all around in this remote part of Regent's Park! One saw indeed a few similar gardens and villas, but only rarely a solitary pedestrian or a silent park labourer' (vol.2, p.99-100).

Accustomed to the bright lights, she soon begins to fret in this 'green nook.' There are occasional diversions when she is taken to the Zoo (vol.2, p.124) or goes for a drive around the park, where she is struck by 'the great number of children... They sported about on the fresh green lawn with their pretty little ponies and goat-carriages, whilst the fashionable world, in the most elegant toilettes, drove or rode on horseback in the "ring" or the surrounding roads' (vol.2, p.123). Slowly it dawns on her that while the prince is happy to avail himself of her charms he isn't serious about the betrothal, and the villa ends up becoming 'a charming golden cage.'

A.D. Ponsonby's A Prisoner in Regent's Park (Chapman & Hall, 1961) puts the episode in context, and provides a smoother translation than the original (uncredited) version.

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Violet, Or, The Danseuse: A Portraiture of Human Passions and Character. Henry Colburn, 1836.
(The novel was published anonymously and there have been several suggestions as to the author. The British Library attributes it to Beasley, forename not known.)

'D'Arcy had a house in one of the terraces facing the Regent's Park: he had taken care to have it prettily furnished; and the sunny aspect and enlivening green expanse on which the eye could dwell from the windows, rendered it a cheerful abode, and one in which Violet would have lived almost contentedly if - but there are always ifs' (vol. 2, p.159).

The 'if' here is that Violet, a dancer at the Opera, has been seduced by 'a rising star among the host of modern politicians' and now finds herself in the role of mistress. Unhappiness about her fall from grace increases with the discovery that D'Arcy is pursuing other women.

'The sun was shining brightly over the green surface of the Regent's Park. It was a charming afternoon in the month of June. Violet heard the rattle of carriages, and watched the britschkas of the London ladies as they rolled on to the park. Their appearance, as they dashed along, in their brilliant attire and their open vehicles, conveyed an idea of gaiety, and of minds at ease, which the reality, if known, might have failed in proving. Violet gave a sigh, and said inwardly, "All those people cannot be happy, but they are not as wretched as I am"' (p.215-216). A description of the park at twilight on pages 231-232.


Serena 1 from Echo's Bones, 1935, reprinted in Collected Poems in English and French. John Calder, 1977.

'without the grand old British Museum
Thales and the Aretino
on the bosom of the Regent's Park the phlox
crackles under the thunder
scarlet beauty in our world dead fish adrift...

I find me taking the Crystal Palace
for the Blessed Isles from Primrose Hill
alas I must be that kind of person
hence in Kenwood who shall find me
my breath held in the midst of thickets
none but the most quarried lovers'

The author of Waiting for Godot lived in London for several years in the 1930's, 'scraping a living by occasional reviews and half-heartedly looking for work' (Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett).

Lawrence E. Harvey, in Samuel Beckett: Poet and Critic (Princeton University Press, 1970), comments that 'Serena 1 envisions the world as a cruel and painful place... "Quarried" like animals in the forest, the lovers become the object of a murderous hunt...It is true that the phlox in Regent's Park is "scarlet beauty", but it crackles under the assault of the thunder and exists in a world likened to a "dead fish adrift." The narrator...ruefully admits, "Alas, I must be that kind of person"...the inveterate idealist, sensitive to beauty, desiring, needing, demanding more of perfection than earth has to offer...' (p.86-87).


The Most Intimate Relationship Of The Heart – Modern Sufi Poetry. PARAS, 1992.

'…the fluorescent pinks
of geraniums dazzling the eyes,
the greens of the trees
looking faded and jaded…' (p.31).

The author has informed me that, although not identified in the text, the park was the inspiration for this poem and others describing spring (p.29) and autumn (p.35).


Forty Years On. 1968. Reprinted in Alan Bennett: Plays One. Faber & Faber, 1991.
'Act 1...LECTERN: March, 1913. Lady Ottoline Morrell walks with Bertrand Russell on Primrose Hill.

Sometime in that year of 1913 I walked with Bertie Russell through Regent's Park to Primrose Hill. It was on this hill that the Prince Regent had once thought to put that Pavilion he eventually built at Brighton, and it was here that Wells had pictured the final apocalyptic scene of The War of the Worlds. But it was very peaceful when we walked there: sheep and lambs grazed among the trees and in the distance the solid splendour of St Paul's rose above the smoke of the city' (p.58).

This is an excerpt from a play within the play, first performed at the Apollo Theatre, London on 31 October 1968. Replying to a query about the origin of this scene, the author said, 'I don't have a reference for Primrose Hill and Ottoline Morrell but I tend to be quite timid about inventing things so it may well be that there is one somewhere but I've forgotten it' (letter to me, January 2009).

Writing Home. 1994. Faber& Faber, 1998.
'20 May [1983]. In the evening I often bike round Regent's Park. Tonight I am mooning along the Inner Circle past Bedford College when a distraught woman dashes out into the road and nearly fetches me off. She and her friend have found themselves locked in and had to climb over the gate. Her friend, Marie, hasn't made it. And there, laid along the top of one of the five-barred gates, is a plump sixty-year-old lady, one leg either side of the gate, bawling to her friend to hurry up. I climb over and try to assess the situation. "Good," says Marie, her cheek pressed against the gate. "I can see you're of a scientific turn of mind." Her faith in science rapidly evaporates when I try moving her leg, and she yells with pain.

It's at this point that we become aware of an audience. Three Chinese in the regulation rig-out of embassy officials are watching the pantomime, smiling politely and clearly not sure if this is a pastime or a predicament. Eventually they are persuaded to line up on the other side of the gate. I hoist Marie over and she rolls comfortably down into their outstretched arms. Much smiling and bowing. Marie's friend says, "All's well that ends well." Marie says she's laddered both her stockings, and I cycle on my way' (p.175-176).

'23 June. As A. and I are walking in Regent's Park this evening we stop to watch a baseball game. A police car comes smoothly along the path, keeping parallel with a young black guy who is walking over the grass. The police keep calling to him from the car, but he ignores them and eventually stops right in the middle of the game. A policeman gets out and begins questioning him, but warily and from a distance. The baseball players, unfortunately for the suspect, are all white and they mostly pretend it isn't happening...Only a few unabashedly listen. Someone shouts, "What's he done?" "I want you to bear witness," the man shouts. "You all bear witness."

For his part the policeman ignores the players, sensing that he is at a disadvantage and that the middle of the game is some kind of sanctuary and too public for the law's liking...Meanwhile reinforcements are on the way, and, as a police van speeds over the grass, another policeman gets out of the car and the two of them tackle the suspect. Still one watched, nobody saying anything, those nearest the struggle moving away, their embarrassment now acute. Eventually the police bundle the man into a van and he is driven off...'(p.177-178).

A Common Assault. London Review of Books, Vol. 26, No.21, 4th November 2004.
'I was walking in Regent's Park when another stroller stopped me and (with no sign of a cigarette) asked me for a light…' It was one of the 'rare occasions when I was unambiguously approached' but 'failed to divine the true nature of the encounter until it was too late'; a failing ruefully ascribed to 'an innocence I retained long after it could be seen as becoming' (p.28). (This was not the occasion of the assault, which happened elsewhere.)

In another article in the London Review of Books (6th January 2005) the author complained that there was 'no designated cycling path through the park, nothing, only a vigilant police force ready to fine any biker they can catch. Why? Is this the case in all the Royal Parks or in all the parks in London? No cycling. Dogs shit there. People fuck there. They even play football and put on plays. But no cycling.'

The articles were reprinted in Untold Stories (Faber&Faber, 2005) on pages 572 (Assault) and 354 (Cycling).


Reminiscences of a Huntsman. Edward Arnold, 1897.
'Among the most extraordinary scenes a hunting-field in so populous a vicinity afforded...was when a fine stag, covered with foam and stained with blood, entered London by the Regent's Park and ran the streets to No.1, I think, Montague Street, Russell Square. My brother...who whipped in with me had stopped the hounds outside the Regent's Park, all but two couple, who went at the flanks of the deer pell-mell into the town. I followed them, of course, to see the termination....The stag was obliged to stop, and turn to bay, backing his haunches against the street door of No.1, and looking wildly over into the area, into which I could see he had a mind to jump' (p.46).

A crowd had gathered and the angry house-owner threatened to call a beadle if it was not taken away. The stag was finally secured: there is no indication of its fate but it may have been taken home, to be hunted again. A report in The Times (25-3-1842) described a hunt by the Royal staghounds that featured 'the celebrated deer Hampton, which has afforded some most extraordinary sport during the present and past seasons.' Starting from Ickenham, the stag had eventually 'crossed over Primrose-hill, into the Regent's-park, skirting Hampstead on the left, and was taken, after one of the most brilliant runs on record, in the area, where it had fled, of No.5, Chester-terrace, Regent's-park.'

In his introduction Herbert Maxwell explains that Berkeley, born in 1800, 'lived in an age when, in the hunting field, as in many other scenes of activity, the old order was changing, yielding place to new. His father [the fifth Earl of Berkeley] had hunted a tract of country extending from Kensington Gardens in the east to the suburbs of Bristol in the west' (p.viii). Now the spreading metropolis was encroaching on the old hunting grounds, and incidents such as this - there were confrontations with farmers and nurserymen in other areas - finally convinced Berkeley that they were no longer suitable for stag hunting.


Just Biggins: My Story. John Blake, 2008.
'The Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park is one of the great joys of an English summer, but from the company's point of view it can take some getting used to... It has the most wonderful gem of a location, tucked away within the inner circle of that beautiful royal park. But it also offers every hazard known to an actor. Flocks of birds fly overhead, or land in front of you. Ducks waddle across the stage. At matinees tourists sometimes seem to miss the fact that the ordinary rules still apply. So they will send children on to the stage for photos in the middle of the action' (p.178-179).

The author, a showbiz stalwart for forty years, came to national attention when he was crowned King of the Jungle on the TV show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

'On stage rain can play havoc with a performance...In a scene in that year's Midsummer [Night's Dream], I was prostrate at Kate O'Mara's feet when the rain started to fall. It began slowly. A single drop hit one of her surgically enhanced bosoms. Ping. I tried to ignore it. Then a drip hit her right tit. Pong. Then two drops. Ping, ping. And then the drops began to land on each tit in turn...The audience couldn't have heard it. But I couldn't hear anything else. So my shoulders started to shake as I started to laugh. Fortunately for me, Kate was having to do all the talking. She made her big speech...But soon I knew my lines would come. Could I spit them out through the laughs?' (p.180-181). Just in time the drops turn into a downpour, bringing the performance to an end.

Later that year another fit of giggles threatens a royal occasion. On a backstage tour after a performance of The Dark Lady the Queen is fascinated by a minor item of costume: '"Look, Philip," she exclaimed, turning to where her husband was jammed in the doorway. "Puck's shoe." And then I really did lose it' (p.184-185).


Macleod of Dare. Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1878.
'A small, quaint, old-fashioned house in South Bank, Regent's Park; two maidens in white in the open veranda; around them the abundant foliage of June, unruffled by any breeze; and down at the foot of the steep garden the still canal, its surface mirroring the soft translucent greens of the trees and bushes above, and the gaudier colours of a barge lying moored on the northern side' (vol. 1, p.98).

The actress Gerty White and her sister are awaiting a visit from Sir Keith Macleod, heir to Castle Dare 'on the high and rocky coast of Mull'. Smitten with Gerty's charms, he is still coming to terms with her way of life. 'It was a pretty sort of idleness. It seemed to harmonize with this still, beautiful summer day, and the soft green foliage around, and the still air that was sweet with the scent of the flowers of the lime-trees' (vol.1, p.110).

Manly and sensitive but short on small talk, he is embarrassed to be 'talking to an actress about her profession, and not having a word of compliment to say. Instead, he praised the noble elms and chestnuts of the Park, the broad white lake, the flowers, the avenues. He was greatly interested by the whizzing by overhead of a brace of duck' (p.112). The maidens have suggested a visit to the Zoo, where the snakes give him a nasty turn (vol.1, p.117-122).

BLAKE, NICHOLAS (pseudonym of the poet Cecil Day-Lewis)

Minute For Murder. The Crime Club/Collins, 1947.
'[He walked] through the July sunshine round the curve of the noble crescent at the far end of which stood the Lakes' house. The stucco was discoloured and peeling, the magnificent row of houses was gapped in two places where bombs had fallen; but its grandeur had not departed from the place' (p.188).

Nigel Strangeways, temporary civil servant and amateur sleuth, has come to interrogate the Lakes about a mysterious poisoning at the wartime 'Ministry of Morale'. 'From the top of the house there was a magnificent view over Regent's Park' (p.194). Some days later he is invited there for supper; after a lengthy discussion the murderer is finally unmasked (p.216-240).


Poems and Prophecies. Everyman/Dent, 1950.
From Jerusalem, Chapter 2 (To the Jews), early 19th century:

'The fields from Islington to Marybone,
To Primrose Hill and Saint John's Wood,
Were builded over with pillars of gold,
And there Jerusalem's pillars stood.

Her Little-ones ran on the fields,
The Lamb of God among them seen...

The Jew's-harp-house & the Green Man,
The Ponds where Boys to bathe delight,
The fields of Cows by Willan's farm,
Shine in Jerusalem's pleasant sight.' (p.190)

The Jew's Harp inn was a popular rendezvous in Marylebone Park. It stood next to Willan's Farm, where Leigh Hunt remembered having eaten 'creams and other country messes' in the days before 'the dear old fields' were redeveloped as Regent's Park.

Blake's most famous verse, 'And did those feet in ancient time', will not be found in this poem, whose subject is the fallen condition of Man and the forces that will redeem him. London is imagined as the historical Jerusalem.

Henry Crabb Robinson, in his Diaries, Reminiscences and Correspondence (ed T. Sadler, Macmillan, 2 vols, 1872), recalls Blake telling him, 'I have conversed with the spiritual Sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill. He said, "Do you take me for the Greek Apollo? – "No", I said, "that (pointing to the sky) is the Greek Apollo. He is Satan"'(Vol 2, page 9, Aphorisms from Blake).


Working With Angels, Fairies and Nature Spirits. Judy Piatkus, 1998.
'One spring morning I felt called by her at dawn to Primrose Hill...It was the morning of a full moon and I was up on the hill before the sun rose, sitting in meditation, waiting to sense whatever it was that she was going to show me. As the dawn crept into the sky I could feel the usual fresh flow of vital energy that begins to move across the landscape as the first light of the sun begins to turn the darkness grey, then white and finally clear. Then I began to feel the angel doing something of her own' (p.36).

The author assures us in his introduction that 'the angel world does exist. It is part of the fabric of nature and the universe.' The angel of London has been showing him 'various natural energy centres' around the city. Regent's Park was a disappointment: 'she did not like the famous Nash Regency Terraces, partly because they blocked the natural flow of earth energy.' Fortunately Primrose Hill came up trumps.

'It was as if [the angel] were lifting up and expanding the whole of her energy field to draw in as much of the dawn's vital energy as possible...Then I began to feel the flow that was coming through her, as enormous floods of vitality were pushed through the city and directed into all the natural life that inhabited it. The life-force flowed into trees, shrubs and plants everywhere...The movement through her energy body lasted perhaps twenty minutes and then gently subsided. "Magnificent," I communicated. "You do this at every full moon?" "No, no, sweet boy," came the reply. "I do it every morning"' (p.36-37).

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The doyenne of Regent's Park writers lived at 2 Clarence Terrace from 1935 to 1951.

The Death of the Heart. 1938. Penguin, 1962.
'The islands stood in frozen woody brown dusk; it was now between three and four in the afternoon. A sort of breath from the clay, from the city outside the park, condensing, made the air unclear; through this, the trees round the lake soared rigidly up. Bronze sky of January bound the sky and the landscape; the sky was shut to the sun – but the swans, the rims of the ice, the pallid withdrawn Regency terraces had an unusual burnish, as though cold were light' (p.7).

A slow walk around the Boating Lake takes up the whole of Chapter 1. The principal characters live at '2 Windsor Terrace' which has been identified as the author's own home in Clarence Terrace. House and park appear frequently throughout the book.

London, 1940. Reprinted in The Mulberry Tree - Writings of Elizabeth Bowen. Ed. Hermione Lee. Virago, 1986.
'I had always placed this park among the most civilized scenes on earth; the Nash pillars look as brittle as sugar – actually, which is wonderful, they have not cracked; though several of the terraces are gutted…Just inside the gates an unexploded bomb makes a boil in the tarmac road… The RE "suicide squad" detonate, somewhere in the hinterland of the park, bombs dug up elsewhere…' (p.24-25).

Air raids in World War Two had caused the park to be closed because of time bombs; further damage to the houses meant that after the war the author's Clarence Terrace home would be demolished and rebuilt. (See the Ritchie entry for a description of the house and park in wartime.) The novelist Anthony Powell recalled going there for a snack after an unsatisfactory dinner at her neighbour Cyril Connolly’s (this was before the demolition). She 'rarely wore spectacles, and perhaps did not see very clearly without them', and never seemed to see the cockroaches in the kitchen that neighbours complained of in other Regent’s Park houses. The kitchen floor was 'writhing' with them (Faces In My Time, p.27)

The Heat of the Day. 1948. Vintage, 1998.
Chapter One describes a Sunday concert at the Open Air Theatre in September, 1942: 'from where it was being played at the base of this muffled hollow the music could not travel far through the park - but hints of it that did escape were disturbing: from the mound, from the rose gardens, from the walks round the lakes people were being slowly drawn to the theatre by the sensation that they were missing something' (p.7).

What Louie is missing is her soldier husband: Regent's Park is where she goes to find male company, and the concert is as good a place as any. Later, as winter approaches, the opportunities lessen: 'from the Sunday park the illusory sensuous veil was stripped - one saw clean through the thickets into empty distance; the ilexy love mound rode in a waste of lawn like a ship abandoned; strangers gave one another unmeeting looks. Habituated lovers made the park tour briskly and arm-in-arm; along black paths and round more sheltered seats she overheard chatter of that existence which was the secret of everybody except her...Yes, it was in the disenchanted park that London's indifference to Louie stood out most stark and bare' (p.146).

The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen. Penguin Books, 1983:

The Man of the Family. Reprinted from The Cat Jumps (Gollancz, 1934).
'Pretty Rachel sat smiling into the bowl of glass fruit, on which green sunshine, reflected back from the Regent's Park trees, twinkled and slid. The trees were in full June light, the dining-room in shadow ...William always lunched at his Aunt Luella's on his way across London. The Regent's Park house was his pied-à-terre' (p.441).

After lunch Rachel insists on being escorted:

'I think Regent's Park's so shady; one never knows. Last time I got spoken to by a boy on a scooter, and today I was followed by a repulsive Airedale. We parted out on the doorstep; it's probably waiting still' (p.445).

Tears, Idle Tears. Reprinted from Look At All Those Roses (Gollancz, 1941).
'Frederick burst into tears in the middle of Regent's Park. His mother, seeing what was about to happen, had cried: "Frederick, you can't – in the middle of Regent's Park!" Really, this was a corner, one of those lively corners just inside a big gate, where two walks meet and a bridge starts across the pretty, winding lake...May sun spattered gold through the breezy trees; the tulips though falling open were still gay; three girls in a long boat shot under the bridge' (p.481).

Frederick's mother, an emotionally frozen war widow, walks off, forbidding him to join her 'till you've stopped that noise.' The miserable seven-year-old finds solace in a duck that 'sat folded into a sleek white cypher on the green, grassy margin of the lake.' As he approaches, the duck enters the lake; 'its lovely white-china body balanced on the green glass water as it propelled itself gently round the curve of the bank. Frederick saw with a passion of observation its shadowy webbed feet lazily striking out' (p.485).

I Hear You Say So. Reprinted from New Writing and Daylight, September 1945.
'A week after V.E. Day, the nightingale came to London – un-noticed until it began to sing...It was now about half past ten; the rose garden in the centre of the park had been closed and locked, leaving the first roses to smoulder out unseen as dark fell...The waterbirds one by one were drawing in to settle among the dock leaves round the islands. The water, which had dulled as the sky faded, now began to shed, as though it were phosphorescent, ghostly light of its own' (p.751).

It has an unsettling effect on the park's visitors:

'Unseen rays of night pinpointed the nightingale, in the concentrated and somehow burning blackness of its unknown tree. It sang into incredulity like the first nightingale in Eden...It sang from a planet, beyond experience, drawing out longings, sending them back again frozen, piercing, not again to be borne' (p.753).


History of the Pumpkin Family in The World: A Periodical Paper, No.68, April 18, 1754. Reprinted in Vol. 24 of The British Essayists. Ed. James Ferguson. J. Richardson & Co., 1823.
'Truncheon, a deep-sighted man, chose Primrose-hill for the field of battle, and swords for the weapons of defence. To avoid suspicion, and to prevent discovery, they were to walk together from Piccadilly, where we then lived, to the summit of Primrose-hill. Truncheon's scheme took effect. Mr. Muzzy was much fatigued and out of breath with the walk. However, he drew his sword; and, as he assured me himself, began to attack his cousin Truncheon with a valour which must have charmed my grandfather, had he been present' (p.10-11).

Mary Muzzy is recounting some 'anecdotes of my family,' this one concerning her husband, who was 'very fat and extremely lethargic...Having received many taunts and reproaches from my grandfather...he resolved to challenge his own cousin-german by the mother's side, Brigadier Truncheon.'

'The brigadier went back; Mr. Muzzy pursued; but not having his adversary's alacrity, he stopped a little to take breath. He stopped, alas, too long!: his lethargy came on with more than ordinary violence: he first dozed, as he stood upon his legs, and then beginning to nod forwards, dropped by degrees upon his face in a most profound sleep. Truncheon, base man! took this opportunity to wound my husband as he lay snoring on the ground; and he had the cunning to direct his stab in such a manner as to make it supposed that Mr. Muzzy had fled, and in his flight had received a wound in the most ignominious part of his body. Mr. Muzzy, wounded as he was (the blood trickling from him in great abundance), might probably have slept upon that spot for many hours, had he not been awakened by the cruel bites of a mastiff' (p.11).


The Last Hope of Girls. Review, 2001.
'They went to Regent's Park the following weekend, meeting in the rose garden. "I used to live in that house there," Martha pointed to a large, tall building standing in the central curve of a pale crescent, overlooking the park, "until I was three or four." The front door was black, as were the doors of all the houses. A broad railing framed a strip of garden separating the house from the main road. On the grass two girls in dark blue coats with velvet collars were playing. "My father still lives there. We used to be very big on ducks," she said. "Some of the ducks really made me laugh. I used to like these funny black and white ones with bizarre teddy-boy-style orangy-red quiffs"' (p.161).

Martha and 'the new man in her life' are still getting to know each other, exchanging memories of childhood.

'They followed a softly curved path through the rose beds, stopping to look at the names of the different blooms, which were displayed on small rectangular green notices.
"They've got some mighty odd names, some of those roses."
"I know."
"Starlight." he read out. "Splendid Renate. Noblesse. Pensioner's Pride."
"I learned to read here, pretty much. People like Gina Lollobrigida I really thought were just roses, for years"' (p.162).

Martha returns later to visit to her childhood home in the 'crescent of large houses, with their haughty Nash columns and rows of high windows' (p.206-208). The ducks are featured again on pages 66 and 211.

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The Ungreen Park - The Diary of a Keeper. Bodley Head, 1978.
'Entering the park makes me gasp with pleasure. Everywhere is so green and time has blissfully stood still. Tourists are strolling around sedately and there is an air of calm about everyone's movements. My pace slows, all my anger and aggression gone' (p.9-10).

Escaping briefly from her office job to find some solitude in Regent's Park, the author is inspired to seek work 'close to nature'. This leads to a job with Islington Council, in much scruffier surroundings than these, and we hear no more of 'the pink and red roses'.


England's Hour. Macmillan, 1941.
'On the last day of May [1940] Martin and I walk in Regent's Park amid shaded mauve pansies and pale pink lupins. "It's just like Sunday," I remark to him, for the park is so deserted that it suggests a hot summer holiday when everyone who possesses something on wheels has gone into the country. Since most of the iron railings have now been removed from London's parks and squares for conversion into armaments, Regent's Park resembles a vast green field, very fresh and vivid. A few elderly people are sitting in chairs, a few young ones sailing boats with striped sails. Again, as in the New Forest, comes the strange illusion of peace, due largely to the beauty of the summer and its scents and sounds. We feel as though we are watching the funeral of European civilizations elegantly conducted. Just so the Roman Empire must have appeared before the barbarians marched in' (p.53-54).

The author of Testament of Youth had become a pacifist after her experience in World War One as a nurse at a field hospital in France. In September 1939 she had started publishing Letters to Peace Lovers, a journal that expressed her views on the present war.

'Recollections come back to me of early morning walks taken after the "All Clear" had ended one more nightly onslaught; of waking up, fully dressed, from a comfortless doze in the basement to stroll through the chill dawn loveliness of Regent's Park while incendiary bombs still smouldered on adjacent rooftops. I walked there in the early morning of Sunday, September 15th, when the newspapers reported that the Nazi forces were already massed for invasion' (p.246).


Eternity is Temporary. Portobello Books, 2006.
'When they reached Primrose Hill, Evan could feel the parched earth crumbling under his feet. Pushing the chair up the steep slope, however, was surprisingly easy. He felt a pleasant glow radiating from the small of his back...The path to the summit was lined with cast-iron Victorian street lamps, each one individually numbered in sequence. "I'm surprised they're not named after famous battles," said Adrea.'

In the scorching summer of 1976, two care assistants are taking wheelchair-bound Terry out for an evening's respite.

'They became aware that they were not alone. At the edge of the lamps' weak radiance, white shapes could be seen on the grass: partially-clad human bodies, variously entangled, rolling around. They heard little cries of pleasure or mock outrage, and a sound of breathing so distinct that it seemed everyone must be inhaling and exhaling together. Adrea noticed that all the pairs were the same distance apart, as if they had been planted there by the parks department: she wondered if they might be individually numbered too...' (p.238). A week later an outing to the Zoo provides a treat for the other inmates of the 'residential home for the elderly' (p.266-278).


The Rules of Engagement. Viking, 2005.
'The weather had deteriorated sharply...by the time I reached Baker Street Station my eyes were watering and my hair unkempt. The students, two Indians, two Japanese, and a Nigerian, seemed disenchanted, as I was, by the peculiar pall that hangs over a London Sunday...Our semi-rural surroundings failed to enchant. The students wanted, as I did, some sign of urban excitement, and this was sadly lacking. The green of the grass looked crude and cold; the very real cold made one yearn for a different climate, different colours. Before we were out of the park I made an excuse, designed to make my departure less offensive' (p.156).

Elizabeth has joined an advertised walk in Regent's Park organized by the warden of a Hall of Residence for foreign students, and for anyone else at a loss over the Christmas period.

'I wanted more creature comforts than a walk in the park could provide, as did the students who stayed obstinately together, unappreciative of their surroundings. Mr. Ward, no fool, could see that this particular endeavour was proving a failure but had the good manners to give no sign of this, and went on talking pleasantly in a voice almost carried away by gusts of wind...The whole group watched as the taxi carried me away. I felt ashamed, as if I had let them down, but in fact they were merely envious. My action in leaving was, if anything, applauded' (p.157-158).


Candy. 2005. The Chicken House, 2006.
'I walked the down-trodden streets of Camden, then up through Parkway and into the splendour of Regent's Park...looking around at the regal white houses and the lush green spread of the park, and the calming waters of the canal, and the little stone bridges, and the barges, and the ducks, and the distant sounds of the zoo, drifting in the air, the faint cries of the birds, the monkeys, the sea-lions...(p.76-77).

Joe has bunked off school for the day to meet up with Candy, first encountered in disquieting circumstances on an earlier visit to London. This time they have arranged to meet at the zoo, and after visiting the animal enclosures go for a meal in the café.

'I gazed out through the café window. The patio outside was deserted. Across the zoo I could see the pathways winding up and down through a landscape of trees and rocks and make-believe animal worlds. Man-made mountains stood glowering in the distance, as pale and grey as poster-painted papier-mâché, and I wondered if the animals knew the mountains weren't real, and if they did know, whether they cared' (p.85-86). The scene continues to p.103.


Hackenfeller's Ape. 1953. Allison and Busby, 1979.
'Radiant and full-leafed, the Park was alive with the murmuring vibration of the species which made it its preserve. The creatures, putting off timidity at the same time as winter drabness, abounded now with no ascertainable purpose except to sun themselves' (p.11).

It's not Homo Sapiens, though, that interests Professor Darrelhyde: he's studying a rare species of ape in Regent's Park Zoo, whose characteristics 'came closer to the human model than those of any other animal'. The book is mostly taken up with the professor's scientific observations; after a night-time break-in (p.77-96) there are unexpected consequences. Meanwhile the creatures in the park go about their usual business:

'In the central meadow they were playing cricket. Westward, the shouts and splashes of the boating lake lingered, like gentle explosions, above the expanse of shallow water. North-west, the canal stood black and transparent like indian ink, between canals mottled by sun...' (p.11).


The Letters of William Cullen Bryant. Ed. William Cullen Bryant II and Thomas G. Voss. Fordham University Press, 1975-1992. 6 volumes.
'London, June 24, 1845...Nothing can be more striking to one who is accustomed to the little inclosures called public parks in our American cities, than the spacious, open grounds of London...North of Hyde Park, after passing a few streets, you reach the great square of Regent's Park, where, as you stand at one boundary the other is almost undistinguishable in the dull London atmosphere. North of this park rises Primrose Hill, a bare, grassy eminence, which I hear has been purchased for a public ground and will be planted with trees.'

The American poet and newspaper editor was on a visit to Europe. A vigorous defender of human rights and prominent in the campaign to abolish slavery, his reformist zeal is evident in his response to what he saw on his travels.

'All round these immense inclosures, presses the densest population of the civilized world. Within, such is their extent, is a fresh and pure atmosphere, and the odors of plants and flowers, and the twittering of innumerable birds more musical than those of our own woods, which build and rear their young here, and the hum of insects in the sunshine...These parks have been called the lungs of London, and so important are they regarded to the public health and the happiness of the people, that I believe a proposal to dispense with some part of their extent, and cover it with streets and houses, would be regarded in much the same manner as a proposal to hang every tenth man in London. They will probably remain public grounds as long as London has an existence' (vol.2, p.330-331).


The Path of the King. 1920. Cedric Chivers Ltd., 1974.
'Lovel had followed him up through Covent Garden, across the Oxford road, and into the Marylebone fields. There the magistrate's pace had slackened, and he had loitered like a truant schoolboy among the furze and briars...Now was the chance for the murderer lurking in the brambles. It would be easy to slip behind and give him the sword-point. But Mr. Lovel tarried. It may have been compunction, but more likely it was fear. It was also curiosity, for the magistrate's face, as he passed Lovel's hiding-place, was distraught and melancholy. Here was another man with bitter thoughts - perhaps with a deadly secret. Whatever the reason he let the morning go by' (p.203).

The year is 1678 and the magistrate is Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, an historical figure whose murder has remained unsolved to this day (see the Potter entry for a non-fiction account of the incident). Lovel fears the magistrate will uncover his treasonous past, but is unaware that - in this version of events - Godfrey's death has already been decided on as part of Titus Oates's 'Popish Plot'. He continues to follow the magistrate, waiting for an opportunity, but 'then came mischance. First one, then another of the Marylebone cow-keepers blocked the lane with their driven beasts. The place became as public as Bartholomew's Fair.'

The author moved to Portland Place in 1912; it was from here that his most famous character, Richard Hannay, set out to solve the mystery of The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915). In The Three Hostages (1924) Hannay has adventures in Marylebone and Gospel Oak; on his way to the latter, 'I went up Portland Place, past the Regent's Park,' but that is all we get.


Evelina. 1778. Penguin Classics, 1994.
'Letter XXI. Holborn, July 1...Yesterday it was settled that we should spend the evening in Marybone Gardens, where M. Torre, a celebrated foreigner, was to exhibit some fire-works...This Garden, as it is called, is neither striking for magnificence nor for beauty; and we were all so dull and languid, that I was extremely glad when we were summoned to the orchestra, upon the opening of a concert...When notice was given us that the fire-works were preparing we hurried along to secure good places for the sight; but very soon we were so encircled and incommoded by the crowd, that Mr. Smith proposed the ladies should make interest for a form to stand upon' (p.259).

Left alone, the ladies are enjoying the 'really beautiful' story of Orpheus and Eurydice until the climactic explosion, which so alarms them that they jump off the bench and scatter in all directions. Evelina finds herself subject to unwelcome attention from prowling males, and gets into another panic: 'I ran hastily up to two ladies, and cried, "For Heaven's sake, dear ladies, afford me some protection!" They heard me with a loud laugh, but very readily said, "Ay, let her walk between us;" and each of them took hold of an arm. Then, in a drawling, ironical tone of voice, they asked what had frightened my little Ladyship?'

As the conversation proceeds it dawns on Evelina that her two protectors are prostitutes: 'Had I been at liberty, I should have instantly run away from them when I made the shocking discovery: but, as they held me fast, that was utterly impossible' (p.260-261). Eventually one of the party arrives to chase her captors away, but not alas before the 'extremely handsome' Lord Orville has observed her in their company and, 'with an air of gravity that wounded my very soul, then wished me good night' (p.264).

Five years earlier the author had described her own visit to the Gardens, to celebrate her 21st birthday, when they were hoping to see 'the Fire Works of the celebrated Signor Torre. But a violent Rain came on, and, after sitting in a box in the Gardens, almost alone, for almost an Hour - We went to sup at Mr. Young's' (letter dated 13th June 1773 in The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, ed. Lars E. Troide, Clarendon, 1988. Vol 1, p.267-268).

On another occasion when the show was cancelled due to rain the disappointed customers included Dr. Johnson. Rejecting the management's apologies as 'a mere excuse to save their crackers for a more profitable company', the author of A Dictionary of the English Language incited ('to stir up; to push forward in purpose') the crowd to riot ('a sedition; an uproar. Milton: "Transformed to serpents all, as accessories/to his bold riot"').


From the Wings. Tinsley Bros., 1880. 3 vols.
'Primrose Hill at seven o'clock on a balmy July morning! The kitchen fires of the surrounding houses are scarcely alight as yet. There is no smoke to mar the wide prospect which stretches fair and clear on every side. Clare, tremulously happy, is thankful to steady herself by casual remarks upon the extensive view..."That is the wonderful dome of St. Paul's," she says, pointing towards the heavy stone cupola, so clearly defined against the pearl-grey eastern sky.

"And that huge pile straight ahead? It looks like a bulky overmasted ship."

"That is the Langham Hotel," says Clare promptly. "Do you know, I used the very words you did when I asked what the place was. Is that not strange?"' (p.220-221).

Harold and Clare have been reunited after 'three terrible years of separation,' blamed on 'that infernal old ruffian' Lord Vestrume.

'They run down Primrose Hill hand-in-hand, these gay young lovers; and an idle policeman crossing their path smiles grimly as he looks after them. "Poor youngsters," he mutters. "They's got the work of the world afore them, they has, they'll find it precious 'ard by-and-by, no doubt."' (p.226).


The Enigma Spy - An Autobiography. Century, 1997.
'Klugmann had arranged for the two of us to meet in the evening at Regent's Park, a spacious and delightful spot close to the West End where, he probably calculated, we would not be recognized or disturbed...We made our way into a part of the grounds with a fair number of trees. It was still light, but there were not many people around. I noticed that Klugmann was not his usual smiling, chatty self. My instinct of unease was not mistaken, for suddenly there emerged from behind the trees a short, stocky figure aged around forty, whom Klugmann introduced to me as Otto. Thereupon, Klugmann promptly disappeared without even daring to give me a furtive look' (p.62).

The author is recalling the day in May, 1937 when he was 'looking forward to a pleasant stroll in a green setting', but found that he had been 'trapped into an appointment with the KGB.' At the time he was a junior employee at the Foreign Office; despite his misgivings about the USSR he would later agree to spy for them.

'My first encounter with Otto lasted less than half an hour and ended with my agreeing to meet him again, but nothing more. I made my way out of the park, got home in a taxi, arriving in a disturbed condition, and took a strong glass of whisky...Naturally I was never told Otto's real name, but we now know he was Arnold Deutsch, one of a group of Soviet undercover agents...(p.63).

Regent's Park seems to have been Otto's favourite spot for recruiting spies - see the Philby entry for an identical episode three years earlier.


An Italian on Primrose Hill. A. Seale, 1875.
'In ten minutes from my home I can be on the top of Primrose Hill. Many mornings at the hour of four or five I have found myself there, sitting or slowly walking round the table-land, and then I could not help thinking upon the numerous happy families in this great metropolis of the commerce of the world' (p.7). Happy families enjoying an outing on the hill at Easter are described on p.10.

The author lived at '13 St. John's Terrace', where 'a large and beautiful view presents itself.' Regent's Park, he thought, was 'best seen when the smiling and surprising English Spring comes. It is then fragrant with the red and white May-blossom, covering the numerous and picturesque thorn-trees. Then also the horse-chestnut and laburnums are in full bloom; and the freshness of the exquisite verdure of the grass and the young leaves delights you' (p.9).

All this is to set the scene for 'the late mournful catastrophe in the Regent's Park', when at 5am on 2nd October 1874 'the sleep was broken by one of the most terrible explosions of gunpowder, powerful enough to throw down masses of stone'. A barge, one of five towed by a steam tug, had blown up as it passed beneath North Bridge (now rebuilt as Macclesfield Bridge), killing the crew of three. An eyewitness account of the aftermath is given on pages 13-22, followed by six pages deploring man's folly in creating the conditions for such a disaster.


A Woman of Virtue. Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster, 2001.
'Much later, in the falling February dusk, Henrietta Healy pulled her thick wool cloak a little closer and stared across the grass of Regent's Park as a slender canal boat slipped quietly past. Devoid of cargo, it skimmed high in the water, floating back down to Limehouse for reloading...The wind shifted then, teasing at the scarf about her throat, and sending a visible shiver down her spine. "Etta, you are cold," said Cecilia fretfully as they strolled, their cloak hems catching on the stiff winter grass. "How thoughtless I am. Should we go in? I daresay you'll want to be off to your aunt's soon"' (p.165-166).

Cecilia, Countess of Walrafen, in 1824 'newly possessed of a most fashionable villa in Park Crescent,' has involved herself in charity work. Walking in the Park with her maid, she is ruminating on a recent death in childbirth at the mission she has helped establish.

'Slowly, Cecilia resumed walking, turning away from the towpath to cross the wide expanse of grass which lay between the canal and her front door. "Tell me, Etta, how in God's name does it happen?" Equivocally, Etta shrugged her narrow shoulders. "Wrong time o' the month, and the poor goose forgot her sponges, most likely." Cecilia looked at her strangely. "Her what?" Across the grass, two dapper young gentlemen were approaching, their tall beaver hats nearly touching as they bent low in conversation. Ignoring them, Cecilia turned to Etta. She was stunned to see the maid blushing...The approaching men were much closer now, but in her discomfiture, Etta apparently did not see them. "Gawd, m'lady!" she squawked, "Sponges! To keep from 'aving a child." On the path ahead, one of the young men burst into a giggle, but struggled valiantly to conceal it behind an elegant kidskin glove' (p.167).

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Look At It This Way. 1990. Picador/Pan, 1991.
'The two men sat in the cab of the truck, waiting for the traffic on the Outer Circle to ease. From time to time they could feel the heavy, uneasy movements of the lion rocking the whole truck. The truck was backed right up against a temporary fence on to the park itself. After perhaps an hour, the driver climbed out of the cab with a pair of bolt cutters and cut through the fence immediately behind the truck' (p.263-264).

Chaka is being returned to the park after four weeks in captivity at a chicken farm. Prior to the abduction there have been frequent visits to the zoo by a journalist hoping to set up a confrontation between Chaka and a former lion-tamer. 'I watched [the lion] through the keeper's observation window. Round and round he walked, looking beyond the children in nylon parkas, beyond the goat mountain, beyond the mosque. Nothing within hundreds of yards interested him' (p.45).

As there had been no clues as to his whereabouts, 'the Zoo was closed until the lion had been found. Residents of the elegant terraces near by had been advised to keep their dogs at home. People were advised not to walk along the canal or anywhere in the park...The press had taken up position with long lenses all around Regent's Park. They were hoping that the lion would kill a duchess; failing that they were hoping that it would kill a duchess's poodle' (p.140-141).


The Memoirs of Giacomo Casanova di Seingalt. trans. Arthur Machen. 12 vols. The Casanova Society, 1922.
'Chance led me to the Marylebone Theatre one evening. The spectators sat at little tables, and the charge for admittance was only a shilling, but everyone was expected to order something, were it only a pot of ale. On going into the theatre I chanced to sit down beside a girl whom I did not notice at first, but soon after I came in she turned towards me, and I beheld a ravishing profile which somehow seemed familiar...One of her gloves fell, and I hastened to restore it to her, whereupon she thanked me in a few well-chosen French sentences.
"Madam is not English, then?" said I, respectfully.
"No, sir, I am a Swiss, and a friend of yours"' (vol.10, p.47-48).

The Memoirs, written in the 1780's, are best known for the author's numerous sexual adventures, of which this is one. The girl turns out to be Sara, daughter of a family he had visited in Berne: 'in three years she had grown into a perfect beauty.'

'The waiter came to enquire if we had any orders, and I begged Madame M — F— [Sara's mother] to allow me to offer her some oysters. After the usual polite refusals she gave in, and I profited by her acceptance to order all the delicacies of the season, including a hare (a great delicacy in London), champagne, choice liqueurs, larks, ortolans, truffles, sweetmeats – everything, in fact, that money could buy, and I was not at all surprised when the bill proved to amount to ten guineas. But I was very much surprised when M. M— F—, who had eaten like a Turk and drunk like a Swiss, said calmly that it was too dear. I begged him politely not to trouble himself about the cost...Sara glanced at me and squeezed my hand; I had conquered' (p.49).

The author had come to England in 1763, hoping to sell his idea of a state lottery to English officials. He does not say when this incident occurred but it has been dated to September of that year. Marylebone Gardens was famous for its musical entertainments, and a few months earlier the lease had been taken over by Thomas Lowe, a popular singer of the period, who had opened the season with a Musical Address to the Town.


Old Common Sense: Or, the Englishman's Journal
. 1738, Issue 77.
'Red Lion Square, July 20, 1738.
I am of that few who can enjoy the Pleasures of Innocent Diversion without being a slave to Mode or Fashion...and can be delighted with the polite entertainments either at Vauxhall or Marybone...Musick and fresh Air, I own, are my chief Delights in this Season of the Year; for which reason I am seldom an Evening without taking a Taste of both...I have lately taken it into my unfashionable Noddle to chuse the alternative of safe journey to Mary-bone, [instead of] an expensive and perilous voyage to Vaux-hall...My Cozen Charlotte...teazes my Heart out to alter my Mind...I appeal to you, whether I, that have twice already this Summer escap'd drowning in my passage from Vaux-hall, ought to comply.'

Vauxhall Gardens was then the most fashionable resort in London; Marylebone Gardens attracted the middling sort with, in the words of a contemporary, 'rarely any quality among them.' The letter from Ms Cautious, a probably pseudonymous and possibly fictitious correspondent, ostensibly seeks support for rejecting Cousin Charlotte's entreaties, but may actually have been a puff.

'I insist upon't, that the Musick is as good at Mary-bone; the Air much better, there is as much, and as good Company there as I want to be in; the Refreshments are as elegant to the full, and cheaper; and, I am sure, the Risk and Expence of coming at them is much less' (p.89)


On Primrose Hill. Methuen & Co., 1962.
'Ricky skipped across the road into Regent's Park, listening with delight to the sloshy noise his gumboots made on the wet pavement. It was just beginning to get dark, and a grey mist hung around the trees. He scuffled his feet in the piles of old leaves that lay limply on the ground. Then he opened his packet of potato crisps and walked along, crunching enjoyably, and trying to sing at the same time. He walked down to the water's edge and shouted at some ducks that were trying to go to sleep. They wouldn't look at him so he went on' (p.9-10).

On his way home Ricky passes a row of derelict houses, sneaks inside, and decides to do up one of the rooms as a hideout. A part-time job after school pays for the paint and equipment; returning home one evening he takes a different route, across Primrose Hill.

'The trees were big and dark but there were friendly little lamps between them. His feet crunched on the gravel path. Several people were out with their dogs. He reached the top, and suddenly there was London spread out before him - lights from side to side as far as he could see' (p.37). A friendly stranger points out the landmarks to him: later he is discovered to be occupying Ricky's hideaway. He confesses to being 'a sort of part-time tramp' and invites Ricky to join him. Adult readers may feel a bit uneasy at this point, but we are in Enid Blyton land: the tramp turns out to be a jolly good sort and their subsequent adventures are entirely innocent.


The Destiny Waltz. Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1971.
'Regent's Park was only a stone's throw away. Thoroughly urban, only really at home with bricks and paving stones, the only park or open space he had ever liked, indeed not actively disliked was Regent's Park; perhaps because of its entirely civilized, urbane quality. Even now, at this low point of the year horticulturally speaking the park was entirely charming, as elegant as a duchess in the delicate, grey chiffon air of the bland February afternoon. There was something about it wonderfully reminiscent of old postcards of Edwardian spa life, of ladies in swathed, ankle-length skirts strolling in warm twilights to music from round band-stands. Entranced, Jimmy walked and walked, keeping all the time the presence of Michele at his side to whom he talked and talked' (p.367-368).

The sudden realization that he is in love has brought Jimmy Marchant into the park to think things over.

'She might have been made to order for him, he thought, sitting on a bench and gazing across the dreaming, misty lake - like the silken simplicity of a Chinese painting - to the vista beyond' (p.368). Musing on their contrasting circumstances, doubts creep in and 'he sank into a resentful questioning pain;' but not for long. 'He opened his eyes and gradually the grey, pure February afternoon and the calm charm of the peaceful lake smoothed him back to his previous condition of marvelling, happy discovery of Michele and what she meant to him' (p.370).


Last Boat to Camden Town. The Do-Not Press, 1998.
'The morning was sharp – he could see his breath before him, but at least it was dry. Kennedy never tired of the beauty of Primrose Hill, particularly on such early morning walks. The sky was a powerful blue and the green and brown colours of the hill combined to create his personal living picture-postcard. He felt very privileged to live where he did...His normal route to the office took him past Cumberland Basin. This morning, there were no signs whatever that twenty-four hours earlier, a man had lost (or maybe taken) his life there' (p.33).

The office is 'CID Camden Town', and Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy is trying to work out how and why the body of Edmund Berry ended up in Regent's Canal. (Primrose Hill's most famous murder victim, found dead in a ditch some three hundred years earlier, was named Edmund Berry Godfrey – see the Potter entry but the DI seems to be unaware of this.) Kennedy is a Primrose Hill resident himself and most of the story takes place in this small section of north London, described with affection and a wealth of local colour. It's not all roses though, as Detective Sergeant Irvine reports:

'Sorry to be a bit late. I've been otherwise engaged up on Primrose Hill this morning...some nutter was sniping at dogs from the high-rise flats. He killed four of the pets before we managed to disarm him...Apparently, he was fed up with going out for a walk on the hill every morning and ending up with dog-shit on his shoes.'

'Maybe it's the owners he should have been after, not the dogs' (p.13).

Fountain of Sorrow. The Do-Not Press, 1998.
'If he were to be alone tonight then he wanted to spend some of the time wandering around Primrose Hill, a ramble he never tired of. As he walked up the hill the sun was going down, nearly gone and it looked quite spooky. There was an orange haze backlighting the hill and it picked up the silhouettes of fifteen or so people wandering aimlessly around the crown. It caught the trees in a similar manner and made the hill seem more like a scene from a Hitchcock movie than sunset on London's most beautiful park' (p.100-101).

Another puzzle for DI Kennedy: who is responsible for the mutilated corpses accumulating around the fountain – 'the one with the bronze statue of a washerwoman on top of it' near Gloucester Gate, Regent's Park? Once again most of the story takes place in the Camden Town area, described in loving detail.

The Ballad of Sean and Wilko. The Do-Not Press, 2000. 
'The greenness and freshness of Primrose Hill and neighbouring Regent's Park was as spiritual as any countryside. Kennedy was surprised but not disappointed that more Londoners chose not to sample these life-enriching sights. Such a soulful experience would set up even the most sceptical of persons for the trials and tribulations of their imminent day in the office or their job of work, whatever it may be. Even on the wettest of winter mornings two magpies had elected to greet him' (p.28).

The Detective Inspector's day in the office will start, he hopes, with the autopsy results on Wilko Robertson, a 70's rock musician found dead in Dingwall's Dancehall at the start of what was meant to be a comeback tour. Another Camden Town mystery waits to be resolved.

I've Heard the Banshee Sing. The Do-Not Press, 2002.
'The sun was going down and a fiery red sky was adding a perfect light to the distinctive London skyline, in its own way as breathtakingly beautiful as any of Woody Allen's Manhattan scenes. There was a power present, an indefinable power but a power nonetheless, which was probably at the root of what drove Kennedy' (p.27).

This sets the scene for five pages of dialogue on Primrose Hill but most of the action takes place in Ireland, where Kennedy and assorted characters unravel another murder mystery.

The Hissing of the Silent Lonely Room. The Do-Not Press Limited, 2001.
'He heard Esther's singing voice in his head as he walked over Primrose Hill. It looked so beautiful this morning. The early morning unused air was clean, clear and sharp, and he found it made his mind remarkably clear and sharp as well. Focused. He found it so easy to focus this morning. Even the early morning dog owners, aiding and abetting their animals to soil this wonderful space, weren't going to annoy him this morning' (p.170).

Another puzzle for the DI : who murdered Esther at her flat at '123 Fitzroy Road, literally a two-minute walk from Primrose Hill'? Suspects are questioned in Kentish Town and Park Village West, and once again the story provides a detailed portrait of the area around Camden Town.

Sweetwater. Dingle: Brandon, 2006.
'Kennedy, in his recuperating periods, would often go for walks in Regent's Park. He loved the sensation of feeling lost while literally in the centre of one of the busiest cities in the world...For Kennedy the compulsive people watcher, the Honest Sausage was one of his favourite spots to indulge in this non-physical sport. The thing about a café in the middle of Regent's Park is that it tends not to be frequented by what you would call regulars, but more by a lot of what you would call out-of-towners' (p.40-41).

DI Christy Kennedy has more on his mind than people-watching; a local man has gone missing and there are few clues as to his whereabouts. Later a corpse is discovered, but it only complicates matters.

'If Kennedy had realized just how hectic Wednesday morning was going to be, he would have savoured his early morning walk over Primrose Hill just a wee bit more. Perhaps he would even have dallied a tad longer to enjoy NW1's most famous patchwork quilt – a pure blue of the sky, the expansive greens of the hill and the hints of brown on the hill's one hundred and fifty-nine leafy grand masters – as the autumn started to declare its intentions' (p.163).

There are earlier scenes on Primrose Hill (p.76-77, 111-112, 157-161) and another one in Regent's Park (p.227-229) before the final one on Primrose Hill (p.283-284); where the reader, though not the DI, discovers what happened to the missing man.

The Beautiful Sound of Silence. Brandon, 2008.
'He had all his team out walking the circumference of Primrose Hill, searching for a location where David Peters could have been hidden during the time between his disappearance and the early hours of the following morning, when, under a cloak of darkness, his body, assumingly drugged, was placed in the bonfire...They couldn't have picked a better day for a search; it was blustery but the sky was blue, and occasional bursts of sunshine showed off the hill at its magnificent best. The best, that was, except for the rubble and ash and burnt-out log stumps that now served as a sad reminder of what had occurred four nights ago' (p.231).

Despite a plethora of witness statements DI Christy Kennedy's team haven't much to go on concerning the Guy Fawkes night horror when the crowds of onlookers heard 'excruciating, ear-splitting wailing...originating from within the flames of the giant fire' (p.7). A few nights later a mysterious phone call sends Kennedy racing down to the canal.

'He skipped down the steep slope and would have run straight into the canal were it not for the high railing at the bottom... The cavernous thunder of his shoes pounding on the towpath under the bridge disturbed the dead silence of night. By the time he was running under Regent's Park Road, he was struggling to catch his breath...In what seemed like a lifetime but was only a minute and a half, he covered the remaining 100 yards to ann rea's houseboat, with its circus colours' (p.252).

The denouement is played out aboard the houseboat in the final pages of the book, ending at p.282.


The Man Who Was Thursday. 1908. Penguin, 1986.
'He sprang over the tall railings almost with one swing. The others followed. They broke through a tangle of plants and shrubs, and came out on an open path. Nothing was in sight, but Dr. Bull suddenly struck his hands together. "Why, you asses," he cried, "it's the Zoo!"' (p.158).

Bull and a mixed posse are pursuing the diabolically clever Sunday, President of the Central Anarchist Council, determined to thwart his plot to destroy the world. 'Clean across the space of grass, about two hundred yards away, with a crowd screaming and scampering vainly at his heels, went a huge grey elephant at an awful stride...On the back of the bellowing and plunging animal sat President Sunday with all the placidity of a sultan, but goading the animal to a furious speed with some sharp object in his hand.' Once again the mastermind eludes them: 'the great grey elephant had broken out of the gates of the Zoological Gardens, and was careering down Albany Street like a new swift sort of omnibus' (p.159-160).


The Journals of Claire Clairmont. Ed. Mary Kingston Stocking with the assistance of David McCambridge. Harvard University Press, 1968.

'Sunday Oct 2nd [1814]. We all go to a Pond past Primrose Hill and make Paper Boats and sail them...
Wednesday Oct 5th. Go with Mary and Shelley to Primrose Hill Pond and sail fire Boats – Return to Dinner...' (p.47).

Claire, Byron's future mistress, was then aged 16 and still known as Jane or Clara. Mary, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, was six months older. Already pregnant with her first child, the future author of Frankenstein would become Mrs. Shelley two years later. The trio moved around from one lodging to another in the Kentish Town area as Shelley dodged the bailiffs. He was then 22, but still 'had a passion for sailing paper boats' according to his friend, the poet Thomas Love Peacock, who accompanied the boaters.

In his Memoirs of Shelley (ed. Howard Mills; Rupert Hart-Davis, 1970) Peacock describes a walk over Bagshot Heath: 'We came on a pool of water, which Shelley would not part from till he had rigged out a flotilla from any unfortunate letters he happened to have in his pocket' (p.58). The Croydon Canal, the Serpentine, Virginia Water and 'a pool on a heath above Bracknell' provided other opportunities, but the Primrose Hill pond is not mentioned. There seem to have been several of them at that time; the last remaining one disappeared in 1902 when it was filled in with soil.

Eight years after the fire boats recorded by Claire, Shelley was drowned off the coast of Italy when his yacht sank in a storm. His friends made a funeral pyre on a beach and consigned his body to the flames.


The Accidental Woman. 1987. Penguin, 2000.
'It was her habit on days which, like this one, were not too busy, to walk into the park to eat her lunch and to escape, for a while, the bustle of the office. She would find a vacant bench in one of the most secluded parts of the park and sit there for nearly an hour, sometimes thinking, sometimes looking around her, sometimes dozing and sometimes feeding the birds. For this last purpose she would bring with her a paper bag full of stale crumbs. Today she also had a packet of sandwiches, egg and cress, bought at a takeaway in Baker Street. These turned out to be disgusting. She ended up eating the stale crumbs and throwing the sandwiches to the birds. That soon got rid of them' (p.103-104).

Maria's divorce has freed her to move to London, 'to enter, in fact, upon one of her better phases...She did not enjoy her work' but 'recognized with periodically recurring amazement that in all other respects she had hit upon a way of life which rather seemed to suit her.'

'Alone, Maria closed her eyes and listened to the sounds around her... It was a winter's day, sunny but essentially cold, and the park was not busy. She could hear two men talking in Japanese, and a baby crying, and a woman saying, There, there, presumably to the baby, and the cooing of hungry pigeons, and the shouts and laughter of distant children. At the back of all this was the loud hum of the city going about its business' (p.104). The scene continues to p.107.


Streetsmart. 1999. Orion, 2000.
'They arrived at the park and drove round the inner circle in the direction of the mosque...A few solitary joggers pounded their way round the perimeter, or were engaged in elaborate stretching exercises against the railings. In a windblown playground, children dangled from a climbing frame, while their parents stamped their boots and slapped their arms to keep warm, and wondered how much longer they must stick it out before going home' (p.227).

Reporter Max Thompson is investigating a Lebanese arms dealer who lives in Regent Village, 'an enclave of enormous detached mansions which had been put up by a property company in the early 'nineties...a couple of hundred yards beyond the Royal College of Obstetricians.' (This would seem to put it in the middle of Sussex Place - where were the Friends of Regent's Park when we needed them?)

An altercation with two security guards makes a quick departure advisable. 'They were pulling out of the car park when they heard a loud beating noise from the direction of Regent Village, and a helicopter slowly ascended from behind the wall of one of the houses, tilted over the trees, and headed off above the treetops' (p.229).


London Belongs to Me. 1945. Fontana Books, 1967.
'If you had stood there on the summit under the pink hawthorn, looking out over London - almost standing on top of it, as it were, with St. Paul's and Big Ben underneath your feet - you would have seen Bill and Doris going down the long walk on the Regent's Park side...When they arrived at the North Gate they found that they were not the only ones who had thought of going to the Zoo. Simply because it was the first hot day of summer - it would be June tomorrow - half London had turned out to drink bottled lemonade and consume great slabs of Nestlé's chocolate and study natural history' (p.198).

It's 1939, the last summer before the outbreak of war, and Londoners - some worried about the looming threat, others largely ignorant of it - are out enjoying themselves.

'It was years since she had been there. And the astonishing thing was that the place hadn't altered. It was simply stuck there in time...The bison, in his eighth of an acre of rolling prairie, was leaning up against the bars to have his forehead scratched, and didn't look any older. The sea-lions were the same...They went into the restaurant. And there were the same plates, with the same lion stamped on them...When they came out of the Zoo, they made their way across Primrose Hill again and back to Adelaide Road' (p.199).

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Lived at 17 Hanover Terrace from 1850 to 1857.

Basil. 1852. Dover, 1980.
The hero wanders around the park in a daze after the first sight of his beloved, who lives nearby. 'I left Hollyoake Square at once, and walked into the Regent’s Park, the northern portion of which was close at hand' (p.32-33). Despite daily visits for a year there is only one more mention: 'Further on the Park trees came in sight – trees that no autumn decay or winter nakedness could make dreary, in the bygone time: for she and I had walked under them together' (p.210).

The Woman in White. 1859. Everyman, 1963.
Although there are no descriptions of the park (there are two walks alongside the western perimeter) I have included this book because for a long time it was thought that the dramatic first appearance of the heroine (p.14) was based on a real-life incident. Collins was said to have encountered a young woman fleeing from a villa in the park, where she had been imprisoned. The source for this was J.G. Millais's biography of his father, The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, Vol. 1, p.278-279. Modern biographers of Collins say it's nonsense.

Kenneth Robinson, in Wilkie Collins: A Biography, quotes Collins on the genesis of the novel. On a visit to Paris he found in an old bookstall 'some dilapidated volumes…a sort of French Newgate Calendar…in them I found some of my best plots' (p.98). (These volumes were Maurice Méjan’s Recueil des Causes Célèbres.) Collins expressly cited the plot of The Woman in White, and though later in life he offered other explanations the points of similarity, even to the detail of the white dress, are too marked to be dismissed as mere coincidence (p.138).

Armadale. 1864. Penguin Classics, 1955.
Lydia Gwilt – bigamist, husband-poisoner and laudanum addict – arranges to meet Ozias Midwinter in the park to avoid being seen with him by her landlady (p.492-493). And again the next day (p.499).

Man and Wife. 1870. World Classics/OUP, 1995.
'I had had a terrible night...I went out to see what the air and the sunshine and the cool green of trees and grass would do for me. The nearest place in which I could find what I wanted was the Regent's Park. I went into one of the quiet walks in the middle of the park, where the horses and carriages are not allowed to go, and where old people can sun themselves, and children play, without danger. I sat me down to rest on a bench. Among the children near me was a beautiful little boy, playing with a brand-new toy a horse and wagon. While I was watching him busily plucking up the blades of grass and loading his wagon with them, I felt for the first time – what I have often and often felt since a creeping chill come slowly over my flesh, and then a suspicion of something hidden near me, which would steal out and show itself if I looked that way.'

Ann Silvester has supped her full of horrors in the course of this marathon of marital skulduggery, but it's all been in a good cause. The author explains in a foreword that he wants to draw attention to 'the present scandalous condition of the Marriage Laws' and the abuses 'which have been too long suffered to exist among us unchecked.' The plot is far too complicated to explain how this is linked to Ann's present sufferings, but they aren't over yet.

'There was a big tree hard by. I looked toward the tree, and waited to see the something hidden appear from behind it. The Thing stole out, dark and shadowy in the pleasant sunlight. At first I saw only the dim figure of a woman. After a little it began to get plainer, brightening from within outward brightening, brightening, brightening, till it set before me the vision of MY OWN SELF...I saw it move over the grass. I saw it stop behind the beautiful little boy. I saw it stand and listen...for the chiming of the bell before the clock struck the hour. When it heard the stroke it pointed down to the boy with my own hand; and it said to me, with my own voice, "Kill him."' (Chapter LIX – The Manuscript, p.605).


Layer Cake. 2000. Duckbacks, 2001.
'The rose garden's in the middle of the park. I've plotted up on a bench where I can see the comings and goings and waited with the papers. There are hundreds of different types of roses, each with different names, but they all look pretty much the same to me, not being a flower lover. I walked through the China garden and they've got herons standing on one leg, little bridges and lakes, very quaint, amazing really' (p.85).

The narrator feels it's time he got out of the drugs business but has agreed to meet Gene, who has a proposition regarding two million tablets brought in from abroad. Terms are discussed, warnings are given. Subsequently he has to reconnoitre Primrose Hill for an assassination.

'Someone standing at the viewing platform, or sitting on one of the benches conveniently placed on the pinnacle, would be at best silhouetted against the sky and at worst wide open, free from any protection. They'd make an ideal target...

Me and the shooter go for a little walk around...He produces a telescopic sight from outa the puffa and starts eyeing-up, walking at the same time, staying close to the brick and wooden perimeter fence, looking over his shoulder to check the windows that look out onto the park. "Here," he says at last, pointing at the floor' (p.294-295).


Gleanings in Europe: England. 1837. University of New York Press, c1982.
'The mists, when they do not degenerate into downright smoke and fogs, have the merit of singularly softening and aiding the landscape character of its scenes. I have driven into the Regent's Park, when the fields, casting upward their hues, the rows of houses seen dimly through the haze, the obscure glimpses of the hills beyond, the carriages rolling up, as it were out of vacuum, and the dim magnificence with its air of vastness, have conspired to render it one of the most extraordinary things, in its way, I have ever beheld' (p.85).

The author of The Last of the Mohicans had arrived at Dover in 1828, on his fourth visit to England, and his gleanings took the form of letters home. 'This park better deserves the name of garden', he confided; 'it bids fair to be very beautiful, but is still too recent to develope all its rural charms' (p.84). He was noncommittal about the Nash terraces but noted that the park was in 'a quarter inhabited by the upper classes, for, while London has so many areas for the enjoyment of the affluent, it is worse off than common, in this respect, in the quarters of the humble' (p.83). And though less vehement than Maria Edgeworth about the appearance of the buildings, he shared her view of their impermanence:

'Were London to fall into ruins, there would probably be fewer of its remains left in a century than are now to be found of Rome. All the stuccoed palaces, and Grecian facades of Regent's-street and Regent's Park, would dissolve under a few changes of the season' (p.259).


Waiting For Jeffrey. Robson Books, 2003.
'Always hotly contested, this year's Golden Bootscraper, sponsored by the Doormats'R'Us chain, went to Spot of Camden Town, a mongrel who, though completely untrained, not only succeeded in making two-thirds of Primrose Hill unfit for human use but also wiped out four beds of Ena Harkness in the Regent's Park Rose Gardens, fused 11 Camden street-lamps, and was responsible for having a Baker Street phone-box melted down for scrap' (p.63).

From Four Bad Legs, one of the newspaper columns republished in this book, in which the author denounces the 'farrago of entirely unreal qualifications for championship status' at the Crufts Dog Show and suggests some realistic alternatives.


The Adamites Sermon: Containing their manner of Preaching, Expounding and Prophesying: As it was delivered in Marie-bone Park, by Obadiah Couchman, a grave Weaver, dwelling in Southwark, who with his companie were taken and discovered by the Constable and other Officers of that place [etc.]. Francis Coules, 1641.

The Adamites were a sect who practised 'holy nudism' and rejected the marriage laws, claiming that its members were re-established in Adam and Eve's state of original innocence. In the introduction to the sermon one of them is explaining to a non-member how the Friday meetings are conducted. 'He on whom the Spirit falls is led in state between two sisters and mounted on a chair, circled on every side with the holy brethren and more holy sisters, where he prophecies till the spirit giveth way to the flesh, and suffers it to rebel; then he whom the Spirit so moveth by the insurrection of the flesh makes his election among the holy sisters; the rest follow his example, and so they endeavour to propagate and augment their number' (p.3).

The listener needs no further persuasion for what seems to be an invitation to an orgy, 'so they both departed from that place where they held this conference and went straight to Mary-bone Park, where were gathered at least one hundred men and women...[who] instantly stripped themselves to the bare skin, both men and women, and then in the manner aforesaid, one of this Holy tribe ascends the chair, wherein he preached this sermon verbatim, as follows' (p.4).

Adamite purity is compared to the corruption of the Church of England: 'This our assembly is more holy than their consecrated church; the green liberty of these trees more pleasant than their painted windows; the summer apparel of the earth more delightful and softer by far than their stone; the chirping of these pretty birds more melodious than their howling organs.' The speaker concludes by urging his listeners, with 'not so much as fig leaves upon us,' to 'rejoice exceedingly and express our joy in the lively act of generation and propagation of the godly, that may be born naked as we are at this present' (p.8).

Disappointingly, it seems that despite the specificity of the information this is a work of fiction. David Cressy, in Agnes Bowker's Cat (OUP, 2000), says that 'there are no surviving records of the Marylebone constables, no incident of this sort appears in the London or Middlesex sessions records, and no other trace can be found of the weaver Obadiah Couchman. We are left with an artful construction, a dialogue followed by a monologue, satirically representing what the author imagined the Adamites to have said' (p.268).

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In a Dark Wood. Fourth Estate, 2000.
'We got out of the car, and began to walk up Primrose Hill...Far above us, above the figures of our children toiling up the green hill, kites whirled and swooped in aerial geometry, whirring as the breeze caught them. Up and down and round and round, looping the loop, soaring and plunging, the fine lines that held them like great fish taut in the hands of the fliers. If I could hold on to myself like that, I thought, if I could still fly but remain anchored, stabilised, sane. I had to try' (p. 269-270).

Having finally accepted the need for medication, Benedick is hoping he can get his manic depression under control. On an earlier visit he recalls playing there as a child, and is dismayed to find in the refurbished playground that 'the big brass slide burnished from all the little bums slipping down it was gone, replaced by a monstrous construction in dull steel' (p.111). Outings with their divorced dad can't have been much fun; on this one, and on a visit to the Zoo, there are outbursts of violence: 'other adults looked away as my children shrieked' (p.50-52).


The Head of the Family. 1852. Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1858. 2 vols.
'He set out on a ramble through the frosty, moonlit streets, whither he hardly knew, until he found himself inquiring of a beneficent policeman the way to the Regent's Park. It was close at hand; the quiet esplanade glittering in the moonlight – a pretty place is the Regent's Park, at night – ay, even the Cockney Coliseum, and the long terrace-range, where, on still summer nights, one can hear one's feet echo, and scent hawthorn and lilac-trees at every step. Even Ninian thought it not so bad, and, with an almost childish fancy, paused to wonder whose little feet might possibly have touched the pavement where his now followed, perhaps at only a few hours interval.'

Recently arrived in London after several years' absence, Ninian is eager to see again his youthful beloved, and 'thought he would walk on and see the house where the Ansteds lived; it would prevent his losing time over that search in the morning. He asked for Chester-terrace, feeling it strange to speak the address he had written so often...He came to the house, and hesitatingly glanced up, as if he expected to see her shadow on the blind. There was no shadow, for there was no light within. In the closed window was a staring printed board – This House to Let' (vol.1, p.323-324).

From the caretaker he learns that the family had departed suddenly, owing money to various tradesmen and leaving no clue as to their whereabouts.


Bolter's Grand-daughter. Writersworld, 2001.
'It was very cold; the lake in Regent's Park was frozen, an icy white haze hung low over the black branches of the trees. I saw Jan walking very fast round the edge of the lake, her face a bluish-mauve colour from the cold, her eyes red-rimmed from crying...We went on walking round the lake and then back again' (p.141).

The author is the grand-daughter of Trix Ruthven, 'a society beauty who famously "bolted" from her first and second husbands and became known as the Bolter – all very shocking in the 1900's' (blurb). Jan is Angela's mother; her distress may be compounded by a sense of deja vue, as her daughter has left her husband to live with another man. And it's not all roses for Angela. Her lover's business venture in wartime London is near collapse, and she has appealed to a previous lover to rescue them from bankruptcy.

'Thursday was a beautiful spring day. I pushed Mark in his pram to Regent's Park... Beds of scarlet, yellow, pink, black and purple tulips made great lines of colour against the dark tree-trunks. The blue sky was reflected in the water of the lake...The huge barrage balloons floated three hundred feet up in the air, silver in the sunlight. Mark crawled happily off the rug and over the grass. Every now and then he pulled clumsily at a daisy, examined it, and brought it back to me, or pulled himself up by the wheel of his pram and dropped it inside. But the nagging anxiety never left me' (p.147-148).


The Temporary. Picador, 1996.
'Ralph had suggested a walk in Regent's Park; a place to which he rarely went, but whose foreignness was, he felt, countermanded by the advantages of the open air. It was the least intimate of settings, and the possibilities of escape from it were unlimited'. But hopes of ending his affair with Francine are dashed when she announces that she is pregnant (p.157-161).


Primrose Hill from The Inn of Dreams. John Lane/The Bodley Head, 1911.

'Wild heart in me that frets and grieves,
Imprisoned here against your will...
Sad heart that dreams of rainbow wings...
See! I have found some golden things!
The poplar trees on Primrose Hill
With all their shining play of leaves...
And London like a silver bride,
That will not put her veil aside!...'


Natural Selection. Piatkus, 2003.
'The morning has matured into a windy afternoon and I wonder how blowy it'll be on top of Primrose Hill... I have no idea from which direction Victoria will come so I stroll round in circles keeping an eye out. A Scottie dog yaps at my heels and a pretty young girl beckons "Blacky" back to her with the obligatory "He won't hurt you." No, but he does irritate me...I keep thinking I see her in the distance but it's not her. When I do make her out at the Zoo side of the hill she is unmistakable...I start running with my arms wide open...I begin to slow down for the great hug when Blacky (I'll always remember you, Blacky) appears from nowhere barking like mad. "Fuck right off!" I shout, without looking down. He makes a beeline for my right foot...The next thing I know I tread on his paw, there's another gust of wind, and Victoria and I come together. Then we go down together' (p.209-210).

It's four years since the lovers parted; a mutual friend has put them in touch again and James has been trying to convince himself that the separation was a good thing really, 'it will be nice to see Victoria as a friend...catch up with her news.' But it's not going quite as he planned.

'Victoria is practically sitting on top of me, laughing. We laugh and kiss each other and try to hug... Victoria buries her head in my neck and our jerking bodies are entwined...Victoria is not laughing now but crying. She's holding her left hand and tears are streaming down her face. And I think to myself what a galumphing great nincompoop of a man I am.

We are in a taxi heading for the Royal Free Hospital. "It was that bloody stupid dog. Blacky his name is. I met him earlier. I knew he was up to no good"' (p.210-211).


Autumnal London in The Glasgow Herald, 21st October 1893.
'It is only a few steps along the Regent's Park Road from Chalk Farm station to Primrose Hill, that most famous, most insignificant-looking and leftiest of London eminences. In the beginning of October I paid it my first visit. There were over a dozen people on its top, enjoying the fresh west wind and the great view of London...Albert Park, of which Primrose Hill is the centre, is a pendant to Regent's Park. It is a scraggy, doleful piece of ground, with only a few trees and a belt of rusty shrubbery. Through it and across the Albert Road I came to the canal which borders the north of Regent's Park. The stagnant olive green water was richly embroidered with an arabesque of leaves, golden, coppery, and crimson, and deep down lay purple patches of sky and fluttering odds and ends of white cloud.'

'Leftiest' must allude to the Hill's popularity as a venue for radical demonstrations, most notably by the Chartists in 1856. Proposals for 'Albert Park,' a vast area which would have stretched north from Highbury Corner to Manor House, were first put forward in 1850. In the end only Finsbury Park was created, but the name persisted. Why the author thought that Primrose Hill, which was several miles away, was at its centre, is a mystery.

'In Regent's Park the common poplars and the ashes were still as green as in June, but the plane trees, the limes, the black poplars, the elms, the chestnuts and the oaks were all deeply stained and tarnished, and, with the exception of the last, beginning to be stripped...A magnificent chestnut overhanging the lake caught the sunshine through a great rent in the cloudy curtain. Its lamps were all out long ago, but the broad sconces remained of bronze and gold, looking so natural, so inevitable, that it was impossible to resist the fancy of their having only been painted green in the summer. "Now," one felt, "the vulgar, stupid green has all been worn away, and we have the beautiful burnished metal"' (p.7).

The author subsequently made use of these nature notes in a poem.

Regent's Park from November, 1905. Reprinted in Xavier Baron's London 1066-1914. Robertsbridge: Helm Information, 1997. 4 vols.

'Poplars, ashes, flaunting wreaths of June,
Green among the tarnished oaks, outstayed
Lindens, plane-trees, chestnuts, elms, so soon
Ragged, draggle-tailed, or stripped and flayed.

Somnolent canal and urban world,
Lawn and lake with saffron leaves and red,
Crimson leaves and olive, brown and gold,
Bronze and topaz leaves engarlanded.

Vol.3, p.82.

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Lived intermittently at 1 Devonshire Terrace (now the corner of Marylebone Road and Marylebone High Street) from 1839 to 1851.

Sketches By Boz (1833-1836).
The eponymous hero of A Passage In the Life of Mr. Watkins Tottle drowns himself in the Regent's Canal after a tragicomic misunderstanding about a forthcoming marriage.

David Copperfield (1849).
Steerforth (future seducer of Little Em'ly) suggests that they 'see the lions for an hour or two' – presumably at the Zoo – on their way to Highgate. They also visit a 'Panorama' and 'took a walk through the Museum' (beginning of Chapter 20). Both attractions were probably in the Colosseum, on the site where Cambridge Gate now stands. Various characters at various times stay at addresses in the Camden Town neighbourhood, as Dickens had as a child, but there are no references to the park.

The Uncommercial Traveller (This was a persona created in 1860 to link miscellaneous articles for his magazine All The Year Round).
Chapter XIX - Some Recollections of Mortality – recounts an incident in 'the hard winter' of 1861: 'I was walking in from the country, on the northern side of the Regent’s Park – hard frozen and deserted – when I saw an empty Hansom cab drive up to the lodge at Gloucester-gate, and the driver with great agitation call to the man there.' The body of a young woman has been pulled out of the canal at the bridge 'near the cross-path to Chalk Farm.' This 'forlorn spectacle' is made more horrifying by the callous behaviour of a passing bargeman and his wife, who would have walked their horse right over the body on the towpath if the onlookers had not shouted at them.

In Claire Tomalin's biography of the actress Ellen Ternan, who became Dickens's secret mistress, his reactions to this incident are linked to his guilty feelings about the young woman he was hoping to seduce (The Invisible Woman. Viking, 1990, p.134).

An earlier intimation of mortality was recorded in a letter of 2nd March 1846: 'As an addition to my composure, I ran over a little dog in the Regent's Park yesterday (killing him on the spot) and gave his little mistress – a girl of thirteen or fourteen – such exquisite distress as I never saw the like of.' (The Letters of Charles Dickens. Clarendon. Vol.4. Ed. Kathleen Tillotson. 1977. p.510).

Chapter XXX – The Ruffian – castigates 'constabular contemplation', i.e. the police turning a blind eye to 'ruffianism'. 'The blaring use of the very worst language possible, in our public thoroughfares – especially in those set apart for recreation – is another disgrace to us…Years ago, when I had a near interest in certain children who were sent with their nurses, for air and exercise, into the Regent’s Park, I found this evil to be so abhorrent and horrible there, that I called public attention to it, and also to its contemplative reception by the Police'.

Margaret Baillie-Saunders (The Great Folk of Old Marylebone, 1904) says of the ruffianism: 'his own little children and their nurses could not take a walk there without insult and molestation from tramping women and girls – an evil he was the means of eventually putting down by untiring appeals to the press and continual police court charges' (p.59).


Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1888: An Unconventional Guidebook. Old House Books, 1993.
Regent's Park: 'It is a great place for skating. A band plays near the broad walk on Sunday in summer, and a vast amount of cricket of a homely class enlivens the north-eastern portion of the park on Saturday afternoons' (p.214). Primrose Hill: 'It is very popular with holiday makers who are unable to get out of town, although, with the exception of a rather small open-air gymnasium, there is nothing to contribute to the public amusement' (p.205).

Dickens the novelist had died in 1870, and the author of the Guidebook series (they appeared annually from 1879, and included a calendar of forthcoming events) was his eldest son, known as Charley. Publishers, then and now, rarely mention this fact, which has led to some confusion in later years.


The Singular Trial of Mr. Jones, A Medical Gentleman, at the Old Bailey, for a Foot-Pad Robbery near Primrose Hill, on Monday, October 11, 1802. W.M. Thiselton, 1805.
'[I was going] by Hampstead from Upper Baker Street – crossing the road near Primrose Hill...I was in the act of getting under a Style – I heard a voice say, "Stop, Stop" – I went on – I turned round and saw him run – I did not at the first moment observe he had a Pistol in his Hand – knowing it was a Gentleman, I had before seen in the Fields, I did not think his Intention was to rob me – I turned round and went on a little – The Man said, "Damn you stop, or I will blow your Brains out" – he came up to the Style with the Pistol in his hand – I then stopped, and gave him what I had – he said, "Damn you, don't look at me, I am not to be looked at..."'

Samuel Wilkinson was testifying at the trial of Edward Digby, a highly respectable doctor who had been permitted to assume the name of Jones 'to prevent precipitate obloquy'. The robbery took place at about 8pm, according to the Morning Chronicle's report of the trial, November 5, 1802 (reprinted in this pamphlet). Three witnesses testified that Digby had been at the house of a Mrs. Sarah Poole from 1pm to 11pm, and he was acquitted.

Unfortunately he was immediately re-arrested for debt – he had 'accepted a Bill' for a friend, who had then departed to America. Digby was broke, having been unable to recover the costs of the trial, and had to spend the next three years in the King's Bench debtors prison. He published this pamphlet on his release.


Primrose Hill from Short Poems. Burns, Lambert and Oates, 1866.

'...What can be a fairer sight,
When the sun is shining bright,
Than crowds upon a holiday,
All hither come to frisk and play?...

But now in sooth the spirits flag,
And all do long for home;
While after us our legs we drag,
So far we had to roam.

Then eastward, southward, westward, ho!
We scatter through the park,
Trailing, hauling, hasting, tired so;
It now has grown quite dark...'


The Young Duke. 1830. The Bradenham Edition of the Novels and Tales of Benjamin Disraeli, Vol. 2. Peter Davies, 1926.
'The Duke of St. James took his way to the Regent's Park, a wild sequestered spot, whither he invariably repaired when he did not wish to be noticed; for the inhabitants of this pretty suburb are a distinct race, and although their eyes are not unobserving, from their inability to speak the language of London they are unable to communicate their observations. The spring sun was setting, and flung a crimson flush over the blue waters and the white houses...A sudden thought struck him. Would it not be delightful to build a beautiful retreat in this sweet and retired land, and be able in an instant to fly from the formal magnificence of a London mansion? Lady Aphrodite was charmed with the idea; for the enamoured are always delighted with what is fanciful' (Book 1, Chapter 9, p.30-31).

The Duke's inamorata is also the wife of Sir Lucius Grafton, so a wild sequestered spot where she wouldn't be noticed had an additional charm.

'Nine acres were obtained from the Woods and Forests; mounds were thrown up, shrubs thrown in...All was surrounded by a paling eight feet high, that no one might pierce the mystery of the preparations. A rumour was soon current that the Zoological Society intended to keep a Bengal tiger au naturel, and that they were contriving a residence which would amply compensate him for his native jungle. The Regent's Park was in despair, the landlords lowered their rents, and the tenants petitioned the King...The truth was then made known that the young Duke of St. James was building a villa. The Regent's Park was in rapture, the landlords raised their rents, and the tenants withdrew their petition' (Book 1, Chapter 9, p.32).


The Story of a Modern Woman. 1894. Merlin Press, 1990.
'So she walked to the Regent's Park, and there, in the trim flower-garden, where the avenue of chestnuts was making long shadows on the neatly-swept paths, Mary sat down and waited. It was high midsummer now; there was a velvety smoothness on the trim lawns, the green light filtered through a canopy of broad chestnut leaves, and the beds were odorous with heliotrope, purple with pansies, and aglow with geraniums' (p.120).

Mary is meeting her lover in an hour's time; meanwhile she studies the other visitors to the park. 'There was a young woman with restless eyes and a hard mouth, keeping a rendezvous with a lover who had not yet appeared; a nurse or two with a swarm of children from the surrounding Georgian terraces, racing and squealing and looking like white rabbits with their pink noses and creamy boots.' She feels drawn towards the young woman and 'would like to have gone up and said something kind. "If that tawdry-looking girl could write down her story," thought Mary, as she passed her, "we should have another masterpiece! It is because they suffer so that women have written supremely good fiction"' (p.121-122).

Visiting Whitechapel Hospital some time later Mary recognizes the girl, now close to death after trying to drown herself in the canal. The doctor too recognizes her, and the girl recognizes him - the lover she had been waiting for in the park, who had abandoned her when she had started to suspect his real intentions.


The Fifth Season. Pocket Books, 2003.
'Juan Fernandez was waiting for Sam in Regent's Park, just before dusk. The park was left to a few joggers and winos bedding down for the night. Fernandez, his arms wrapped around his body, gazed meditatively at the statue of a small brown terrier..."Amazing story, this, my friend," said Fernandez in his light, slightly accented baritone. "The dog was subjected to vivisection operations for two months at University College. Every time a wound healed, the dog was opened again. And you English call bullfighting cruel."

"There used to be an older statue here," said Sam. "Taken down in 1906 after it provoked riots between 'brown doggers', who were violent anti-vivisectionists, and medical students who were pro. The new one was erected in the 80's' (p.130-131).

Visitors hoping to find this statue will be disappointed. The Brown Dogger riots did happen but the memorial fountain was not in Regent's Park: both the original 1906 monument and the 1985 replacement were sited in Battersea Park. However the 'Deputy Director General of the National Crime Squad' has come here with more immediate matters on his mind: the terrorist bombings at 'Eastfield University.' His Spanish colleague's suggestion that the Mafia is involved is met with incredulity.

As the plot develops international ramifications Sam goes for a run to puzzle things out; 'scattering a gathering of ducks, [he] headed towards the zoo, offering his customary nod to the black bear isolated at the top of its ziggurat-shaped hill' (p.169-171). The evidence eventually leads back to a house overlooking the park, but a clandestine search reveals that 'the Syrian bird has taken wing' (p.463).


Rural Essays. Ed. George William Curtis. Leavitt & Allen, 1856.
'Let me give you an outline of another garden in the midst of the Regent's Park...The scene, as you enter the grounds, is extremely beautiful and striking, especially when you recall (what, without an effort, you would certainly forget) that you are in the midst of a vast city...Here is a large velvet lawn, admirably kept, the surface gently undulating, and stretching away indefinitely (to all appearance) on either side, losing itself amid belts and groups and masses of shrubs and trees, with winding walks stealing off, here and there, in the most inviting manner, to the right and left.'

The author had written the first American treatise on landscape gardening in 1841, and was an advocate of large city parks that could be enjoyed by all classes of society. In this essay on English gardens, dated August 1850, he seems to have been most impressed by the park's Botanical Garden, which was not open to the public.

'All the elite of the West End of London are here; for in London, horticultural shows are even more fashionable than the opera; and a gayer or more beautiful sight is not easily found. At the last festival of this sort, the great novelty was a magnificent plat, or garden of rhododendrons, of all colors; the plants, in full bloom, were large and finely-grown specimens, sent beforehand from various nursery gardens fifty or one hundred miles off, planted here in a scene by themselves, where they bloomed in the same perfection as if they had grown here for a dozen years'. (Chapter IV)


The Yellow Face (1893). Reprinted in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: the Celebrated Cases of Sherlock Holmes. Octopus Books, 1981.
'Sherlock Holmes was a man who seldom took exercise for exercise's sake...One day in early spring he had so far relaxed as to go for a walk with me in the Park, where the first faint shoots of green were breaking out upon the elms, and the sticky spearheads of the chestnuts were just beginning to burst into their fivefold leaves. For two hours we rambled about together, in silence for the most part, as befits two men who know each other intimately.' Dr. Watson notes that 'it was nearly five before we were back in Baker Street once more' (p.216).


The Seven Sisters. 2002. Penguin Books, 2003.
'Eventually I reached the large formal round pond at the end of the avenue leading from the Rose Garden. There was nobody on any of the benches. Rain fell on the wet statuary. A white plastic bag was floating in the shallow water of the fountain...It seemed to sum up my despair. It floated, half-submerged, yet not sinking, in miserable suspension. I decided to try to remove it...but it was just beyond my reach. I looked for a stick, but I could not see anything suitable in that trim, well-tended public garden...I looked around me, but could see nobody...I took off my sandals, and rolled up my wet trousers, and waded in.'

Candida, at her 'lowest ebb' after her divorce and a subsequent move to London, has forced herself to go out on a wet day in the hope that the rain will let up.

'The water was shallow, and within two steps I had the bag in my grasp...As I clambered out, I looked around again, guiltily, and saw that by now somebody was watching me. An elderly black man, muffled up in raincoat and hood, had arrived upon the scene, and was standing, hunched, as a witness. The expression upon his face was of unutterable dejection...I felt that we were kindred spirits, but I could neither speak nor smile. Solemnly, clutching the bag, I thrust my feet back into my wet slippery sandals, and then made my way across the gravel path to an elaborate black and gold ornamental dustbin, where I deposited the bag. I felt better for this pointless act' (p.127-128).


Growing Pains: The Shaping of a Writer. Victor Gollancz , 1977.
'Walks became longer with the Norlands. Instead of the Broad Walk in Regent's Park, bordering the Zoo...we were marched to Park Square Gardens some way off, and I soon saw the reason for this, for the current Norland nurse met friends, and once inside the gardens, which were enclosed by tall railings, so that you had to enter with a key, she would sit with the other nurses in a cosy shelter out of the cold wind, and they drank hot cocoa out of a Thermos flask, and ate biscuits. Baby, lucky thing, was snug and warm in her pram beside them. "Now then, run along and play." I did not want to play. My feet were frozen. My boots were too small. I wanted to sit in the shelter and be warm with them. No use though' (p.18-19).

The author of Rebecca spent the greater part of her life in Cornwall, the setting of her best-known stories, but as a child lived at 24 Cumberland Terrace, where she was born in 1907. Her world began to change in 1914. 'Soon there were soldiers everywhere...wearing khaki, marching down Albany Street and through Regent's Park.'

'One day Angela told me that she had overheard someone tell Nurse Netta that in wartime everyone made eyes at the soldiers. "What does it mean, making eyes?" I asked her. "I think it's like this," Angela said, looking sideways out of the corner of her eyes. We practised this awhile, and afterwards, when we were walking in Regent's Park, and saw soldiers coming towards us, we used to stare at them sideways, in a squinting sort of way, smiling at the same time. Angela said it was patriotic. But I don't think they noticed, which was disappointing' (p.31-32).

Angela, the author's elder sister, did not recall this incident in her autobiography, It's Only the Sister... (Peter Davies, 1951). Her earliest memory was 'wetting my knickers in Regent's Park, when dressed in my Sunday clothes...I wore a pink coat (pelisse) and a pink and beaver-edged poke bonnet, and white suede boots. I was very smart, and in either the Outer or Inner Circle of Regent's Park this shame befell me' (p.5). She was then aged two.

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