Oxford had Inspector Morse, Glasgow had DCI Taggart. Now Cormoran Strike, private investigator, is patrolling the mean streets of Fitzrovia.
You may not have heard Cormoran Strike’s name before, but you will certainly recognize that of his creator — JK Rowling. Writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, the wizard storyteller has produced three detective novels set in contemporary London. Mr Strike, a private investigator based in Denmark Street, delves into shocking crimes that lead him through Mayfair, Soho, and into the darker side of Fitzrovia’s literary haunts.
Cormoran Strike has featured in three Galbraith novels so far — The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career Of Evil, the last of which was published this October. This latest book in the series offers more than word pictures of late-night Fitzrovia — its cover features a photomontage based on Charlotte Place.
Other venues in and around Fitzrovia feature in the series. Cormoran Strike’s office is upstairs above the 12 Bar Club music venue in Denmark Street, and The Tottenham pub (now renamed The Flying Horse) on Tottenham Court Road also appears.
Next year, the British viewing public will be able to shadow Mr Strike around his Fitzrovia haunts. The first two Robert Galbraith novels are to be adapted for a BBC One drama series. JK Rowling will be an executive producer on the series, which will be produced by Dan McCulloch and directed by Julian Farino.
Danny Cohen, Director of BBC Television, says “It’s a wonderful coup for BBC Television to be bringing JK Rowling’s latest books to the screen. With the rich character of Cormoran Strike at their heart, these dramas will be event television across the world.”
JK Rowling is not the only contemporary novelist to have been inspired by Fitzrovia. Humorist Danny Wallace’s debut novel, Charlotte Street, begins with an accidental encounter in that very thoroughfare, and regularly mentions the Fitzroy Tavern.
“It had been a hub for artists and intellectuals and bohemians in the 20s and 30s and 40s,” says the novel’s hero, Jason. “They’d crowd each corner… swapping ideas, arguing drunkenly, fighting and loving, until the pub came to define the whole area. George Orwell drank here, Augustus John. Now it was people like me… You couldn’t help but think that if a pub could look a little disappointed, it would be just a little disappointed right now.”
It’s plain that Danny Wallace conducted serious research into the hostelries of Fitzrovia. Of his visits to the Newman Arms in Rathbone Street, he jokes: “People must have been much smaller whenever it was built!”