Literary Georgetown

On Tuesday, it was announced that the prestigious Man Booker Award, which is given to the best English language novel published in the United Kingdom, was awarded to the American, George Saunders. It was for his 2017 book Lincoln in Bardo.

The novel is about Abraham Lincoln and how, in his grief over the death of his son Willie, the President visited Willie’s crypt in Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery to hold his corpse.

While this is certainly one of the more notable literary works to take place in whole or in part in Georgetown, it is certainly not the first.

GM has explored several fictional works set in Georgetown, and the span a wide range. Curiously one of them also involves Oak Hill Cemetery. That’s The Perfect Spy, by John Le Carré. The story is about an English spy who, among other flashbacks, recounts his time in Georgetown and the secret location in the cemetery he used to exchange illicit messages. That secret spot actually exists!

Then at the other end of the spectrum is The People of Pineapple Place, a story of a boy who moves with his mom to Georgetown and discovers a magical street where ghosts from the past live. While the book places the eponymous street somewhere off of P St., the true inspiration is Pomander Walk.

There are others of course. Here’s a murder mystery, unimaginatively named Murder in Georgetown (which seems to be based loosely on the mysterious death of Mary Pinchot Meyer). Here’s another mass market paperback about a seance in Georgetown gone wrong. And here’s what appears to be a Da Vinci Code knock-off set in Georgetown.

Hey, they can’t all be Man Booker Award winners…

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One response to “Literary Georgetown

  1. Katherine Ann Porter, the author of “Ship of Fools,” lived in Georgetown. Peter Blatty was a Georgetown U. grad who wrote “The Exorcist,” which takes place in Georgetown. Herman Wouk, author of “The Caine Mutiny” among many more well-received novels, lived in Georgetown for many years. Kitty Kelley lives in Georgetown, she has authored many bios of famous and infamous people. Nora Ephron wrote a successful novel set in Georgetown. It was about her marriage to Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame. The list goes on and on.

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