The Alphabet of Heart’s Desire

It is the wit that really draws you in. Despite the grim background and the sometimes horrific detail, the writing is vivid and buoyant, the research and the detail impressive. I was gripped. 

Katharine McMahon, author of The Rose of Sebastopol, The Woman In The Picture, etc.



In 1802 Thomas de Quincey, a young man from a comfortable middle-class background who would go on to become one of the most celebrated writers of his day, collapsed on Oxford Street and was discovered by a teenage prostitute who brought him back to her room and nursed him to health. It was the beginning of a relationship that would introduce Thomas to a world just below the surface of London’s polite society, where pleasure was a tradeable commodity and opium could seem the only relief from poverty. Yet it is also a world  where love might blossom, and goodness survive.

The lives of a street girl, an aspiring writer, and a freed slave cross and re-cross the slums of London in this novel about the birth of passion, the burden of addiction, and the consolations of literature.


The Alphabet of Heart’s Desire imagines three utterly different lives, and weaves them through the brutal, vibrant world of early 19th century London to make an atmospheric, shocking and satisfying story.

Emma Darwin, author of The Mathematics of Love and Alchemy


Brian Keaney is an award-winning  author, best known for his young adult and children’s fantasy novels Jacob’s Ladder, The Hollow People and The Magical Detectives. For a number of years he was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Goldsmiths College and at the London College Of Fashion and he taught creative writing on the Pembroke College Cambridge summer programme. He has a house in the west of Ireland where he spends as much time as possible. His writing has been translated into twenty languages, and several of his books have now been bought by US Film Companies.

“A talented writer. I admire his seriousness of purpose.” Philip Pullman


Published 16th November 2017



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