June 22, 2012

Croydon: A literary town?


There is a pleasure in the pathless woods

What do Kate Moss and Lord Byron have in common? The Evening Standard can sensationally reveal: nothing.

Croydon, the suburb of south London famed for its hairstyle, recently applied for city status, and in its application bumf claimed the limping devil as ‘one of the artistic talents nurtured by Croydon’. Anyone who’s visited Croydon won’t be surprised to learn that that’s bollocks. Records show that Byron was born in London’s Marylebone, brought up in Scotland and educated in Dulwich—not a million miles from Croydon—but that he never made it to the land that Kate Moss would one day call home.

Those researchers could have avoided this mess by reading Doris Langley Moore’s masterful biography The Late Lord Byron, described by the New York Times as:

A massive triumph of literary scholarship… with awesome industry and remorseless detail… She has checked dates, exposed lies and exaggerations, analyzed characters and speculated about motives.

Or by, you know, consulting their own archives.

In fairness to Croydon, it has been home to numerous luminaries, including John Ruskin, D.H. Lawrence, Arthur Conan Doyle, and my mum.


Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.