Mapping Room 13 by Robert Swindells

I’m looking at Room 13 by Robert Swindells at the moment as part of my PhD. It’s one of the books I hope to reference and work with in some depth as I look at literary tourism in the United Kingdom. Room 13 is one of those greatly plotted and written books that it’s a pleasure to work with so I thought I’d share the first stage of this research.

What is below is a map of Room 13. There are several different layers which detail the various events and journies of the book; the key events are higlighted in green stars, the location (approximate) of the Crow’s Nest is picked out and the locations of other key events are also detailed on the map.

So what does this show? Well, it’s early days, but what it does tell us is that if you wanted to go on holiday to Whitby and relive the journey of Fliss and her friends, you could do so quite easily. (Though I’d recommend doing it without the whole scary ‘sorting out Room 13’ bit, right?). But what it also is starting to show me is something about the linearity of the plot, the tightly controlled narrative and the subtle interweaving of the Important plot elements along with the Everyday plot. It’s a piece of plot mastery, really, this slim immense book and what it creates is, very much, this unsettling air of the everyday. The world of Room 13 is unnerving precisely because so much of it occurs in the ‘normal’ everyday space of Whitby.

As I said, it’s early days, but one of the key aims I want (and have always wanted to do) is share some of this research with you when and where I can. Hence map. Enjoy 🙂

6 thoughts on “Mapping Room 13 by Robert Swindells

  1. I was on the trip that inspired the story back in 1987. The actual school is Mandale Middle School, off Cooper Lane, Bradford. Robert Swindell’s wife was our English Teacher, hence why he came along. If I could only figure out which hotel it actually was I’d go back!

      1. It was a fun trip. Well, apart from the bit where my ears got sunburnt and I had to go to the doctors. Got to wear Robert’s hat, though! I’m the Barry Tune (long story!) in the books (I have a bigger part in Inside the Worm!)

        Anyway, good luck and if you find out which hotel it was, let me know.

    1. Hi

      Did you ever finish your PhD? I was one of the kids who went on the school trip with Robert Swindells! I’d love to read your dissertation when it’s complete!


      Michelle Bambrick (was Michelle Webster!)

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