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Visit the Memory Library of London – with Kate Storey

  • Submitted: 18th February 2024

The Memory Library by Kate Storey

Settle in and pop the kettle on. You are in for a treat – Memory Library author Kate Storey is here!

The Memory Library Kate Storey

Map locations in The Memory Library

When I was planning to write a book with a library at its heart, the stunning Carnegie library in West Greenwich immediately struck me as the perfect location. The fact it had been saved from closure by The Friends of West Greenwich Library demonstrated how strong the surrounding community is, and since the novel is about books, family and community, Greenwich was the ideal place to choose.

Sally and Ella’s family home.

The Memory Library opens with Sally reading to her daughter, Ella, in her childhood bedroom in their house on Circus Street. It’s an elegant Georgian townhouse which later falls into disrepair during Sally and Ella’s estrangement. On the first floor there’s a locked room, which Ella eventually discovers is a library of books her mother has collected and inscribed for her.

Map locations in The Memory Library

1.      Circus Street, West Greenwich, SE10.

I have never been inside a house on Circus Street, so whilst I’ve tried to be accurate when describing the exterior, the interior is purely fictional.

Map locations in The Memory Library

2.      West Greenwich Library. 146 Greenwich High Road, SE10.

Map locations in The Memory Library

The hub of the community.

West Greenwich Library is a beautiful Carnegie library a few minutes’ walk from Circus Street. It’s an attractive red brick building with pale stone architraves, a cupola and lead dome. Three stunning domes make up the ceiling inside, the first is duck-egg blue, divided into eight sections, where light floods through the octagonal cupola and the eight semi-circular windows.

I sat at a table under the first blue dome to write the scene where Ella returns to the library after two decades away. It was easy to imagine how she’d be struck again by its beauty, especially seeing it through the eyes of an adult for the first time.

The library was saved from closure by The Friends of West Greenwich Library, and they were kind enough to meet with me and, along with librarians Catherine and Debra, they shared the history of the building and gave me a sense of how important the library is to the local community.

Head Librarian, Debra, chose the name of the character called Pru.

Map locations in The Memory Library

3.      Greenwich Market. SE10 9HZ

The location of Hannah’s second hand book stall.

This is a lively, thriving marketplace in the centre of Greenwich where, in The Memory Library, Sally helps her friend Hannah run her second hand book stall. The market is surrounded on four sides by permanent shops, with crafts, jewellery, clothing, street food and all kind of fabulous ephemera available in the cobbled courtyard. It’s always bustling with both tourists and locals.

There is invariably a second hand book stall at the market, but Hannah is a fictional character.

Map locations in The Memory Library

4.      The Royal Naval College. SE10 9NN

Map locations in The Memory Library

The beautiful architecture of the famous Royal Naval College only gets a couple of mentions, but one in particular means a great deal to me. A friend of mine, a brilliant woman called Nina, used to volunteer as a tour guide at the naval college. Nina passed away last year, just before I began to write The Memory Library, so I decided that she should exist forever within the pages of the book. One of my favourite characters, Verity says, ‘I went on a tour of the navel college a couple of years ago… We had this amazing guide called Nina. She was funny and knowledgeable and she made it all so interesting.’

I also called Verity’s art teacher Phil, to commemorate another lost friend. I like to think they’ll always be there, nestled amongst the pages.

5.      The Cutty Sark. SE10 9HT

Map locations in The Memory Library

Ella sees the historic clipper ship differently now she’s returned to Greenwich.

The Cutty Sark’s maiden voyage was from London to Shanghai in 1870. In 1954, it was towed into a specially built dry dock in Greenwich and it’s now a busy tourist attraction.

It’s first mentioned in The Memory Library when Ella walks through Greenwich with her old school friend, Verity. She marvels at the sight of the magnificent rigging, admitting that she didn’t really notice it when she was a child because it was just a familiar part of the everyday scenery.

The way we view things differently as adults is a theme of the book, so it was great to be able to illustrate that with this extraordinary ship.

The Memory Library Kate Storey

Wow thank you so much  Kate!

Visit the Memory Library of London - with Kate Storey

BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Memory Library

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Twitter: @LTimoneyWrites

Insta: @lisatimoneywrites/

 

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