Acton takes up Chiswick’s literary challenge

I wrote last week that the timeline of Chiswick writers published by Director of the Chiswick Book Festival Torin Douglas, has reached 250 names.

With luminaries such as Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, John Osborne and Dame Iris Murdoch among our claims to fame, not to mention older generations of illustrious authors including the Irish poet WB Yeats, author of Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray and 18th-century satirist Alexander Pope, verily can we claim the distinction of being a great literary neighbourhood.

Local historian Val Bott ventured to suggest that other postcodes might like to see if they can beat us in the literary stakes. No sooner had she thrown down the gauntlet than it was picked up. 

The Observer published a piece on Sunday titled: ‘Put the word out: Chiswick may be Britain’s most literary location.’

‘Bath, Edinburgh and the Lake District are each deeply steeped in literary history and are justly proud, while Stratford-upon-Avon could claim to being the single most important literary destination in Britain. But now there is an unlikely new contender…’

‘Unlikely’?!!! How very dare they!

Now Twitter has lit up with suggestions by our very near neighbours Acton, indicating they think they might be in with a shot at the title. ‘Forsooth’ say I, ‘pshaw’.

Just because the have Julian Barnes and Guardian columnist Tim Dowling. Ok so Eric Morecambe once lived there and the Who’s Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend and John Entwistle went to Acton County Grammar School. But literary capital? I think not.

Clare Gittins, who’s been tweeting about it for the Acton Arts Project told me: “I think it’s a fantastic idea. It’s a delightful thing to talk about anything which brings a community to life by telling a story about the people who lived there”. 

Acton Arts Project are hoping to persuade Ealing Council to let them have the now defunct Acton Library as a community arts centre and are keen to promote anything of a cultural nature in Acton.

Clare now seems to have been given the job of collating Acton’s list (“until it becomes too onerous, when I will ask for help”). 

Chiswickians should keep a beady eye out for any other published authors we can add to Torin’s list, lest any other pretenders try and take the title.

‘Pretentious – Moi?’ to quote the immortal Miss Piggy. (Or should that be ‘Pretentious – Nous?’)