The junction of Finchley Road with West End Lane in Camden is the setting for a pivotal episode in Wilkie Collins’s ‘Sensation’ novel ‘The Woman in White’(1859.) The central protagonist and art teacher Walter Hartright encounters the mystifying and distressed Anne Catherick late one night when walking home from Hampstead, who is later tragically buried as Walter’s lover Laura Fairlie.
Dating back to the 16th century and now the only surviving coaching inn in the city, the celebrated George Inn was once located on a major transport route between the city, the surrounding counties and the Continent. Tucked away inside the cobbled courtyard of Talbot Square, this famous drinking establishment is adorned with lattice windows, wooden paneled galleries and open fireplaces and has been visited by literary greats including Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. Many of Charles Dickens’ most famous works are inextricable from the topography of the capital and in ‘Little Dorrit’ (1855) Young Tip visits the George Inn, where he writes ‘begging letters.’ The neighboring Talbot Inn, demolished the 1870s, was where the pilgrim’s in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ set off on their pilgrimage to Canterbury.