This map plots the settings and references in Written on the Body
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The novel is set mainly in London, the capital of the UK. It is an ancient city, with a diverse population of around 7 million people. Its character and form vary as much as its people, from historic palaces to mews houses, rural parkland to tightly-packed urban high-rise flats, museums and art galleries to warehouses and offices.
London is famous for many things: Buckingham Palace, St Paul's Cathedral, red buses, black cabs, Pearly Queens, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben... the list goes on and on.
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"I tethered my bike at Charing Cross and changed in the toilets before meeting her by Nelson's Column." (page 12)
Charing Cross is an area of Westminster, in London. It falls within the main roads of the Strand, Embankment and Whitehall, and is not far from Trafalgar Square.
In all likelihood the narrator tethered his/her bike at Charing Cross tube station, which has an entrance leading into Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square is a square in central London, famous for its statues (including Nelson's Column), its fountains, and (until a few years ago) its flocks of pigeons. It is a very popular tourist attraction.
Nelson's Column is a monument built in the 1840s to commemorate Horatio Nelson's victory and death at the Battle of Trafalgar. The column, topped by a statue of Nelson, is over 50 metres high.
Louise and Elgin lived at "52 Nightingale Square, NW3." (page 173)
Hampstead is an extremely affluent area, boasting some of the most expensive houses in London, with prices ranging up to £50 million. The area has a rural and village-like atmosphere, and is known for its proximity to the ancient parkland of Hampstead Heath.
Hampstead is part of the London Borough of Camden and has associations with intellectualism, literature and the arts.
"41a Dragon St NW1. It was the address of my flat." (page 173)
The postcode of London NW1 (North West 1), where the narrator's flat is located, covers the areas of Camden Town, Marylebone, Primrose Hill, Regent's Park, and Somers Town, so it's difficult to pin down a precise location. Marylebone, Primrose Hill, and Regents Park are all fairly affluent areas. Camden town is a more urban area, known for its 'trendy' vibe and its street markets.
"Elgin's mother and father still lived in a 1930s semi in Stamford Hill." (Page 32)
"Louise had brought me to Oxford to get away from Elgin." (page 98)
Oxford is a medieval city in southern England, best known for its historic university.
"I paddled through the shallows of the river where the little fishes dare their belly at the sun." (page 11)
"I packed and took a train to Yorkshire." (page 106)
Yorkshire is a county in northern England. It is the largest county in the UK, and consists of the wide open green spaces of the dales and moors, as well as cities like Leeds and York, industrial areas and farmland. It is approximately 200 miles from London.
London Zoo, opened in 1828, was the world's first scientific zoo. It is situated on the Outer Circle of Regent's Park and is a popular tourist destination. Today the Zoo specialises in research, conservation, and education, as well as being a fun day out!