Books About Town


Like books? Like sitting down? Then you’re going to love the National Literary Trust’s latest art project, Books About Town. The NLT has commissioned 50 book benches based on authors across the ages, magicked into being by artists from around the globe. Trip around London from now until September and there are 50 to sit down on, ranging from Dr Zeuss to Charles Dickens, Bridget Jones to Virginia Woolf. As 11 of them are lounging in my home borough of Greenwich, I decided to track a few down…

I started off in Greenwich Park, home to the Royal Observatory and a skipful of squirrels. The map told me there were six benches in the park, and it didn’t lie. First up, the ultra-vivid Jungle Book, with not another soul around.


Conversely, we had to kick three teenage girls off the Elmer The Elephant bench to get a picture. They were happy to oblige and were even polite. Honestly, young people these days.


Then it was a trudge up the hill to the rose garden, where Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury’s family favourite We’re Going On A Bear Hunt was nestled. And you do have to hunt for this one…


Out of the rose garden, a quick skip down to the Royal Observatory and there on the top of the Greenwich view was H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine bench. We kicked some Asian tourists off this one, sat eating chocolate muffins. They got up without a murmur.


Down the hill to seek out Charles Darwin’s The Origin Of The Species – a rom-com I think. A swarm of German tourists were all around this one but we quickly shooed them away…


Captain Scott’s Autobiography was suitably maritimey, and Dr Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary was a wordy hoot, but we strode past them, pitching up at Greenwich Station for The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. This seemed to flummox the locals, who were eyeing it with suspicion…


Then we slalomed down to Adrian Mole’s Not-So-Secret Diary to pay homage to Sue Townsend, even if the bench could have done with a splash of colour. A man jumped in front of us to take a picture. We tutted.


Then it was on to Samuel Pepys’ atmospheric masterpiece (main image), this time with Italian tourists to dislodge. Finally, we took in E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children, who all looked a bit distressed which probably explains the startling lack of tourists.


If you love books, these benches are an absolute thrill to find and see in real life, as is tipping people off them. We’ve still got a ton to do including Shakespeare, Mrs Dalloway, Pride & Prejudice, Paddington Bear, Mary Poppins, Fever Pitch and Oscar Wilde. Oyster card at the ready…

Find out where all the benches are here: