Lytton Road, EN5

Place Name

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton (May 25, 1803 – January 18, 1873) was a colourful writer and politician who lived at Copped Hall, in Totteridge between 1858 until his death. As a politician he served as both a Whig MP from 1831 to 1841 and a Conservative one from 1851 to 1866, during which time he was Secretary of State for the Colonies between 1858 and 1859. In 1862, he declined the Crown of Greece after King Otto abdicated and four years later was created Baron Lytton of Knebworth. When his marriage to the writer Rosina Bulwer Lytton broke down he had her confined to an insane asylum provoking a public outcry. In between all of this he wrote novels coining the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, and “the pen is mightier than the sword”. And in his 1830 novel, Paul Clifford, he gave the world the opening phrase “It was a dark and stormy night…” It goes on: “The rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” The introduction is remembered today in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest which seeks to find the “opening sentence of the worst of all possible novels”. This road was the home of the Regal Cinema and it was first named in 1865. Bulwer Road is also named after him.

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