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Eight works of literature that evoke the life of Cambridge


Category: Language, literature and media

22 June 2018

Get to know Cambridge through the written word. We’ve handpicked eight literary gems that evoke the life of the city.

If you’re looking for an insight into the peculiarities of Cambridge University, the satirical novel Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe is a must.

What self-respecting city doesn’t have its own brooding detective? Enter Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie from her Case Histories novel, playing the classic police officer-turned-detective. Well worth a read.

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett tells a love story split across three parallel universes. It’s not as complex as you might expect, and it all begins with a cyclist crashing into a pedestrian. Very Cambridge.

Written by former ARU lecturer Rebecca Stott, Ghostwalk is set in modern-day Cambridge but, like the city itself, is inextricably linked to the past. A winding mystery of history, Isaac Newton, and something spooky.

This one’s a poem, get over it. The Old Vicarage, Grantchester by Rupert Brooke captures the gentle and idyllic lifestyle of a Cambridgeshire village, and is most recognised by its final lines: ‘Stands the church clock at ten to three? And is there honey, still, for tea?’

You can still grab a cuppa at The Orchard tea room as Rupert Brooke did.

For a completely different feel, check out Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd by Nick Masson. Pink Floyd formed while they were at Cambridge School of Art and performed their first ever gig from the balcony.

On Leaving Cambridge is a poem composed by Chinese poet Xu Zhimo in 1928 when he visited Cambridge as a scholar. Lines from the poem are carved on a stone on the River Cam’s bank, near to King’s College.

The Cambridge Art Book is more of a visual book, but one that captures the city through the eyes of its talented artists, many with their own connections to Cambridge School of Art.

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