The Glasgow Necropolis on a cold, bright morn; grand and Gothic and unsurprisingly, Victorian. Ever a society in love with death, elevating it into an art form fit for the ancients.
It’s easy to see why writers are fascinated by cities of the dead. Cemeteries tell a thousand tales. Inspiration and intrigue around every corner.
Sitting on a hill in the heart of the city, the Necropolis wakes. It looks over the old and new of Glasgow, a stark mix of grey-red stone and dark shadows.
The living walk amoung the dead, tourists, visitors and others poetically extolling virtues of life over breakfast beers
The grandest mausoleums sit on the prime spot at the very top of the hill. They show off wealth from the then-new industrial classes. Everlasting memorials to countless engineers and entrepreneurs, doctors, priests and generals.
You have no choice but to wander. No-one’s in a hurry. Walk and wind between the long forgotten and remember their tales.
On the other side of the hill a great screeching disturbs the dawn. An industrial site behind this resting place belches clouds of smoke and noise enough to wake the dead.
Highgate East cemetery is one of the biggest and oldest graveyards in London. It’s split into two sides, East and West. Both sides are open to visit for a fee – but the West requires a tour, whilst the East lets you wander at will.
The cemetery was one of a number built and run for profit in the Victorian era, a heydey of death and funerary. As that era faded, so did the cemetery until it was left in a state disrepair. Eventually, a group was set up to revive its fortunes and you pay a small entry fee to help pay for its upkeep.
In the Eastern cemetery, I found two new additions to add to my slightly morbid collection of writers who are deceased (see Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and William Shakespeare).
First Mary Ann Evans or George Eliot as she is better known:
Eliot wrote a clutch of famous novels including The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch (which I’ve struggled with but plan to finish some day). Her writing was intelligent and politically astute, and her personal life was lively. She lived openly with a married man and later married a chap twenty odd years her junior.
The second author is a personal hero of mine, Douglas Adams:
I suspect I won’t have to explain too much about him but in case you’ve been living under a rock he’s the writer of the wonderfully brilliant “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.
You could easily miss his grave amid the grander memorials. As you can see fans have left a multitude of pens, a towel and if you look closely a small whale on top of the headstone. It was simple and charming and I think Adams would have loved it.
There are plenty of other famous people buried here – like Karl Marx whose grave was perhaps grander than he might have liked
But I shall finish with this honorary literary grave:
From what I can tell Mr Horn wasn’t involved with Penguin Books in any way he just really liked them. I think it’s a rather wonderful idea for a headstone, don’t you?