Girl with a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier: ‘Dartmouth Park is in danger of becoming like Hampstead’

Award-winning writer Tracy Chevalier. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Award-winning writer Tracy Chevalier. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Historical writer Tracy Chevalier, 52, is the author of bestselling novel Girl with a Pearl Earring.

The mother-of-one is a well-known face in the area as she has lived in Dartmouth Park for 14 years and is patron of Highgate Library in Chester Road.

What brought you to Dartmouth Park?

When our son was born we wanted more space so moved from a flat on Parliament Hill across to Dartmouth Park – this was back when it was affordable!

How has Dartmouth Park changed since you moved into the area?

It used to be poor man’s Hampstead. Now it is in danger of becoming Hampstead.

What is the area’s best kept secret?

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Kingswear Road and upper Croftdown Road – surprisingly affordable houses given the location. Also, we are incredibly lucky to have Continental Food Store (aka Nico’s, aka George’s), a local shop that has a wonderful selection of interesting food for its size. There aren’t many local shops where you can get pomegranate syrup and bagels. It leaves Tesco Metro in the dust!

What would you change about Dartmouth Park?

I am still mourning the loss (years ago now) of Cavours hardware shop on the roundabout at Swain’s Lane. We need more sensible shops like that. I also miss Fish and Fowl on Highgate Road – but luckily there is a new fish shop by Tufnell Park tube which is pretty wonderful.

If you were editor of the Ham&High for a day, what local issue would you champion?

I would champion an integrated, organised neighbourhood plan that is based on what the residents want and need rather than on developers’ profits. This would include much stricter regulations of the Mansfield Bowling Club, the Swain’s Lane development, and the Highgate Road petrol station development.

What tips would you give to somebody moving to the area? If you have a baby, get on the waiting list for York Rise Nursery. Great place, and your kid will make their neighbourhood friends there.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

In fact I just met Gloria Steinem at a literary festival and was struck dumb. She cofounded Ms. Magazine in the 1970s and at 80 is still as inspiring a feminist as ever.

If you had to write your own epitaph what would it say?

Less Is more.