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The port in literature

Introduction
Sherlock Holmes
Charles Dickens
Daniel Defoe
'Chinatown' literature
Frost fair 'poetry'
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Introduction

Sculpted panel commemorating Charles Dickens.
View full size imageSculpted panel commemorating Charles Dickens. © NMM

Many writers have used references to the Thames and London's port districts in their works.

Here is a selection of extracts from leading authors, including Conan Doyle, Dickens, Defoe and others.

For anyone not familiar with these authors, their works are well worth reading.

 

The frost fair on the Thames in 1814.
View full size imageThe frost fair on the Thames in 1814. © NMM
The port also generated a great deal of lesser writing. This selection considers two very different examples: 'Chinatown' literature, which used the seafaring Chinese community of Limehouse as the backdrop for lurid thrillers, and 'frost fair' verses, when the freezing of the river 'inspired' some of the most lifeless poetry ever written.

 

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Glossary
Port

Find out more
StoriesJoseph Conrad
The Polish émigré who became a British merchant seaman and a master of English prose.
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Fact fileCharles Dickens
The greatest English novelist of the Victorian era
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StoriesThe Thames frost fairs
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Things to doAn animated Frost Fair
Find out more with our Frost Fair animation
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StoriesChinese in the Port of London
Find out about London's original Chinatown
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Related Resources
Related Images9 Images
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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