How Leonard Cohen’s Hampstead period helped him complete his first novel

Leonard Cohen in 1975

Leonard Cohen in 1975 - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Leonard Cohen, the much-loved singer-songwriter who has died at the age of 82, is more commonly associated with the Greek island of Hydra and the Chelsea Hotel in New York, but he might never have got that far had it not been for the time he spent living in Hampstead.

Cohen arrived in London in 1959 as a 25-year-old and took a room at 19b Hampstead High Street (now Petit Bateau) a boarding house run by Stella Pullman on the corner of Gayton Road.

The landlady let him stay on a cot in the living room, the only space available, provided he brought in the coal, lit the fire and wrote three pages of his novel each day.

In an interview with Jarvis Cocker, Cohen said: “It was under her fierce and compassionate surveillance that I wrote my first novel, The Favourite Game.”

The Canadian singer frequented the King William IV and The King of Bohemia pubs and loved Hampstead for its literary heritage. And Cohen’s time in London provided another significant slice of Cohenabilia: his famous blue raincoat, not yet torn at the shoulder, was bought here.

Read more about Leonard Cohen in Hampstead here.