Gillian Tindall

Gillian Tindall FRSL (born 4 May 1938)[1] is a British writer and historian. Among her best-known works are the books City of Gold: The Biography of Bombay (1992) and Celestine: Voices from a French Village (1997). Her novel Fly Away Home won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1972. From the 1960s to the early 1990s, Tindall also worked as a journalist, writing stories for The Guardian, The Evening Standard, The Times, and The Independent – and for many years she was a regular guest on the BBC Radio 3 arts discussion programme, Critics' Forum. Since 1963 she has lived in Kentish Town, North London.[2]


Beginning as a writer of fiction, she made her initial move into non-fiction with a biography of the fin de siècle novelist George Gissing. She wrote books about Londoners as separate in time as Rosamond Lehmann, a novelist contemporary of the Bloomsbury Group, and Wenceslaus Hollar, a Czech etcher of the seventeenth century. Another of Tindall's works, The Journey of Martin Nadaud: A Life And Turbulent Times (1999), reconstructs the life and voyage of a 19th-century Frenchman from the Limousin region – a master stonemason-builder, who became a French political figure, revolutionary, republican Member of Parliament, and then an exile in England for eighteen years. Following this book's publication, Tindall was awarded in France the title of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.[3]

Tindall went on to specialise in a niche she has made particularly her own: the genre of miniaturist history (see, by way of comparison, Portrait miniature in art). Her book The Fields Beneath (1977) explores the history of the London neighbourhood of Kentish Town and the spread of great cities in general, and is regarded as a seminal work of urban historical geography.[4]

Tindall's book The House by the Thames (2006) is about the house built at 49 Bankside in London in 1710 and the buildings that preceded it on the site. The house has served as a home for prosperous coal merchants, an office, a lodging house, and once again as a private residence in the later 20th century. It has been erroneously assumed to be where Sir Christopher Wren lived during the construction of St Paul's Cathedral; other fantasy residents of older buildings on the site include Catherine of Aragon and William Shakespeare. The house still stands, in the shadow of the Globe Theatre.

More recent books of Tindall's include Footprints in Paris: a Few Streets, a Few Lives (2009), which deals with the author's ancestors and their various connections to Paris over the generations; Three Houses, Many Lives (2012), which is another historical study centred on three ancient, contrasting habitations in southern England; and The Tunnel Through Time: A New Route For An Old London Journey (2016), which explores the layers of history that lie beneath the route of London's newest underground line, Crossrail.


Tindall's mother, Ursula Orange, was a novelist in the 1930s and 1940s. Ursula's father was Hugh William Orange, who received a knighthood for contributions to education in India.[5] Hugh's father[6] was the medical pioneer William Orange CB, MD, FRCP, LSA, second superintendent of Broadmoor Hospital.[7]



  • No Name in the Street (1959, Cassell & Co, ASIN B0000CKDE1)
  • The Water and the Sound (1961, Cassell & Co, ASIN B002G3FW5W)
  • The Edge of the Paper (1963, Cassell & Co, ASIN B0031JPUCK)
  • The Youngest (1967, Secker & Warburg, ASIN B001AIVBTA)
  • Someone Else (1969, Walker & Company, ISBN 0340107103)
  • Fly Away Home (1971, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0340150394)
  • The Traveller and His Child (1975, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0340197412)
  • The Intruder (1979, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0340243961)
  • Looking Forward (1983, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0340345063)
  • To the City (1987, Hutchinson & Co, ISBN 0091705401)
  • Give Them All My Love (1989, Hutchinson & Co, ISBN 0091739195)
  • Spirit Weddings (1992, Hutchinson & Co, ISBN 0091745055)

Short stories

  • Dances of Death: Short Stories on a Theme (1973, Walker & Company, ISBN 0802704263)
  • The China Egg and Other Stories (1981, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0340259701)
  • Journey of a Lifetime and Other Stories (1990, Hutchinson & Co, ISBN 0091744504)



  • A Handbook on Witches (1965, Castle Books, ASIN B000JG9ESE)
  • Rosamond Lehmann: An Appreciation (1985, Chatto & Windus, ISBN 978-0701127060)
  • Countries of the Mind: The Meaning of Place to Writers (New edition 2011, Faber & Faber, ISBN 978-0571260362)
  • City of Gold: The Biography of Bombay (1992, Penguin Books Ltd. Travel Library, ISBN 978-0140095005)
  • Célestine: Voices From a French Village (1997, Henry Holt & Co., ISBN 978-0805051773)
  • The Journey of Martin Nadaud: A Life and Turbulent Times (1999, St Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0312261856)
  • The Man Who Drew London: Wenceslaus Hollar in reality and imagination (2003, Pimlico, ISBN 978-0712667579)
  • The House By The Thames: And The People Who Lived There (2006, Pimlico, ISBN 978-1844130948)
  • Footprints in Paris: A Few Streets, A Few Lives (2009, Chatto & Windus, ISBN 978-0701181024)
  • The Fields Beneath (1977) (New edition 2011, Eland Press, ISBN 978-1906011482)
  • Three Houses, Many Lives (2012, Chatto & Windus, ISBN 978-0701185183)
  • The Tunnel Through Time: A New Route for an Old London Journey (2016, Chatto & Windus, ISBN 978-0701188658)


  1. ^ "Weekend birthdays", The Guardian, p. 53, 4 May 2014
  2. ^ Emms, Stephen (3 July 2013). "Wednesday Picture: Gillian Tindall's Kentish Town Hideaway". Kentishtowner.
  3. ^ Mayne, Richard; Johnson, Douglas; Tombs, Robert, eds. (2004). Cross Channel Currents: 100 Years of the Entente Cordiale. Routledge. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-415-34661-0.
  4. ^ Carrier, Dan (31 March 2011). "Feature: Kentish Town – The Fields Beneath: The History of one London Village". Camden New Journal.
  5. ^ "Indian Biographical Dictionary". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  6. ^ Savage, Gail (1996). The Social Construction of Expertise: The English Civil Service and Its Influence, 1919–1939. University of Pittsburgh. p. 200. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  7. ^ William Orange CB, MD, FRCP, LSA: A Broadmoor pioneer. Available from researchgate.ne accessed September 28, 2017

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