30 July 2016 | 10 °C

21 September 2010 | By: Rachel Holdsworth

London Literary Locations: White Teeth

London Literary Locations: White Teeth
"'Let's get going,' he said, as a huge beer-pregnant Englishman, wet from the fountains, collided into him, 'out of this bloody madness. It's on Chandos Street.'" p.417, Ch 19 We have a feeling that Smith meant Chandos Place; all her characters converge on Trafalgar Square - if you look at the map, Chandos Street is up by Portland Place
Chandos Street. "'Let's get going,' he said, as a huge beer-pregnant Englishman, wet from the fountains, collided into him, 'out of this bloody madness. It's on Chandos Street.'" p.417, Ch 19 We have a feeling that Smith meant Chandos Place; all her characters converge on Trafalgar Square - if you look at the map, Chandos Street is up by Portland Place
"Samad waited till the sun went down, bought a box of sticky Indian sweets, and turned into Roundwood Park; admired the last of the flowers." p.150, Ch 7
"Samad waited till the sun went down, bought a box of sticky Indian sweets, and turned into Roundwood Park; admired the last of the flowers." p.150, Ch 7
p. 138 Ch 7. 'Let's give it some time... two weeks Wednesday? Four-thirty? Harlesden Clock?'
p. 138 Ch 7. 'Let's give it some time... two weeks Wednesday? Four-thirty? Harlesden Clock?'
"It just means you're nothing, repeated Millat, working his way through the premature vomit (girls drinking doubles since three o'clock) over to Havelock, to look Havelock in his stony eye." p.419, Ch 19
"It just means you're nothing, repeated Millat, working his way through the premature vomit (girls drinking doubles since three o'clock) over to Havelock, to look Havelock in his stony eye." p.419, Ch 19
"...the sky had clouded over, and when they walked up the hill to the King Ludd pub, past the jeering Fleet Street lads with their Saturday pints, it was discovered that Archie had been given a parking ticket." p.44, Ch 3 The King Ludd on Ludgate Circus is now a Leon and a Santander
"...the sky had clouded over, and when they walked up the hill to the King Ludd pub, past the jeering Fleet Street lads with their Saturday pints, it was discovered that Archie had been given a parking ticket." p.44, Ch 3 The King Ludd on Ludgate Circus is now a Leon and a Santander
"By 1992 they were a small but widespread body, with limbs as far-flung as Edinburgh and Land's End, a heart in Selly Oak and a soul in the Kilburn High Road." p.390, Ch 18 KEVIN meets in Kilburn (Town) Hall, but we couldn't find anywhere that would fit the bill. Any ideas?
"By 1992 they were a small but widespread body, with limbs as far-flung as Edinburgh and Land's End, a heart in Selly Oak and a soul in the Kilburn High Road." p.390, Ch 18 KEVIN meets in Kilburn (Town) Hall, but we couldn't find anywhere that would fit the bill. Any ideas?
"Like any school, Glenard Oak had a complex geography." p.241, Ch 11 It's thought that Zadie Smith modelled Glenard Oak on Hampstead School, where she went
"Like any school, Glenard Oak had a complex geography." p.241, Ch 11 It's thought that Zadie Smith modelled Glenard Oak on Hampstead School, where she went
"Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway... Squeezed between an almighty concrete cinema complex at one end and a giant intersection at the other, Cricklewood was no kind of place. It was not a place a man came to die." p.3, Ch 1
"Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway... Squeezed between an almighty concrete cinema complex at one end and a giant intersection at the other, Cricklewood was no kind of place. It was not a place a man came to die." p.3, Ch 1
"They drank, as everybody in Willesden drank, in the aforementioned Spotted Dog, a famous Willesden landmark, described in 1792 as 'being a well accostomed Publick house'." p.398, Ch 18 The Spotted Dog is no more, and is on the verge of being turned into flats
"They drank, as everybody in Willesden drank, in the aforementioned Spotted Dog, a famous Willesden landmark, described in 1792 as 'being a well accostomed Publick house'." p.398, Ch 18 The Spotted Dog is no more, and is on the verge of being turned into flats
"Willesden was not as pretty as Queens Park, but it was a nice area... Though it was the same here in a way: they all looked at her strangely, this tiny Indian woman stalking the High Road in a mackintosh." p.52, Ch 3
"Willesden was not as pretty as Queens Park, but it was a nice area... Though it was the same here in a way: they all looked at her strangely, this tiny Indian woman stalking the High Road in a mackintosh." p.52, Ch 3
"And the No. 52 bus goes two ways. From the Willesden kaleidoscope, one can catch it south like the children; through Kensal Rise, to Portobello, to Knightsbridge... or you can get it north, as Samad did; Willesden, Dollis Hill, Harlesden." p.137, Ch 7 These days, the 52 terminates at Willesden
"And the No. 52 bus goes two ways. From the Willesden kaleidoscope, one can catch it south like the children; through Kensal Rise, to Portobello, to Knightsbridge... or you can get it north, as Samad did; Willesden, Dollis Hill, Harlesden." p.137, Ch 7 These days, the 52 terminates at Willesden

White Teeth, as every fule no, was Zadie Smith's blockbuster debut, the multi-generational tale of multicultural London from 1974 up to the turn of the century. It's a fairly obvious choice for us to pinpoint where the action takes place, especially as a lot of it happens in the less-loved-than-they-should-be areas of North West London. Strangely, however, we found a number of things in the novel not matching up to real life - maybe it's our battered US version, or maybe Smith has deliberately smudged the precise edges. None of this takes away from the sense of place and rootedness that is at the heart of the book, it just made our job that little bit harder...

Page numbers refer to a US edition published by Vintage for reasons too dull to go into here; chapter numbers are also given so you can find it in a UK edition. All images author's own. See the other books covered in this series.

View White Teeth in a larger map
Rachel Holdsworth

Article by Rachel Holdsworth | 2,969 articles | View Profile | Twitter