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Top 10 Famous Londoners

super_clive . . . Comments

This year has celebrated the great old city of London more than any other. The major criterion to earn a place on this list was to be born within a Borough of London. As a result many famous people who have been associated with the city due to their work or life (such as Churchill or Dickens) have not made it. There is also an eclectic mix of people from politicians to musicians to writers. This was to ensure that no area of interest monopolized the list. Such are the numerous contenders for a place in the top 10 – a second list may well follow…


Daniel Day Lewis
Famous for Acting


Born: Greenwich, Borough of Greenwich, South-East London, 1957.

One of the most celebrated actors of his generation, Day-Lewis was born into an Irish family in South London in 1957. He is part of a very select group of actors who have won two Academy Awards for male in a leading role – for My Left Foot (1989) and There Will Be Blood (2007). His portrayal as oil prospector Daniel Plainview in the latter will go down as one of the most menacing performances in recent cinema, similar to his celebrated depiction of Bill ‘the Butcher’ Cutting in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002), which also brought him a nomination for Best Actor at the Oscar’s that year. Daniel Day-Lewis is also one of the most ‘selective’ actors in Hollywood, having only starred in five movies since 1997. His forthcoming portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s epic ‘Lincoln,’ is one of the most anticipated releases in recent cinema history.

‘I do know where I come from. I particularly miss south-east London – the front lines of Deptford and Lewisham and New Cross and Charlton – because that’s my patch. But maybe I have a rather sentimental relationship to it. The sort that exiles tend to have.’ (Time Out Magazine, 2008)

Other famous acting Londoners: Gary Oldman, Christopher Lee.


Michael Faraday
Famous for Science


Born: Newington Butts, Borough of Southwark, South London, 1791.

Faraday can rightly lay claim to be one of the most famous scientists of modern times. Often referred to as being the man who ‘invented’ electricity, Faraday was the first person to discover electromagnetic induction in 1831, the principle behind the electric transformer and generator. The BBC website claims this discovery ‘was crucial in allowing electricity to be transformed from a curiosity into a powerful new technology.’ He is also famous enough to appear on the back of British £20 notes.

Other famous London scientists: Sir William Crookes, Brian Pippard.


John Keats
Famous for Poetry


Born: Moorgate, The City of London, 1795.

Known as the ‘Cockney’ poet, John Keats is one of the most championed of the second generation Romantics along with his contemporaries Shelley and Byron. Like William Shakespeare, most English people first come to know of Keats at school where his works are still a fundamental part of the British secondary school curriculum – which in part has led to him becoming one of the most analyzed poets in English Literature. Like many great artists through history in differing fields, Keats gained most notoriety for his works posthumously. His sensual imagery employed in most of his odes are superlative, such as in ‘Ode to Autumn,’ where it would be hard to argue that there has been a better depiction of the season of Autumn and everything Autumnal written in the English language. There are currently several ‘Keats London walks’ that tourists can experience which take in his birthplace in Moorgate to his monument outside Guys Hospital in London Bridge.

Other famous London poets: John Milton, Lord Byron.


David Beckham
Famous for Football (soccer)


Born: Leytonstone, Borough of Waltham Forest, East London, 1975.

David Beckham has become a true British icon of the 21st century, and is arguably the most famous Londoner alive today. As a huge promoter of the London Olympics throughout the world it was a massive shock to many Team GB supporters when he was omitted from Stuart Pearce’s squad for the games. Although since gaining notoriety through fashion and modeling, ‘Becks’ is still most famous as a football player, captaining his country on 58 occasions and playing in three World Cups. His most celebrated moment on the field came in the 1999 Champions League final when his man of the match performance helped Manchester United defeated Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp Barcelona in one of football’s most dramatic finishes.

“I was born in Leytonstone in Waltham Forest, one of the host boroughs for the London Olympics, and I played football on Hackney Marshes as a kid, so I’m very keen to support the 2012 bid.” (The Telegraph, 2004)

Other famous football playing Londoners: Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves.


David Bowie
Famous for Popular Music


Born: Brixton, Borough of Lambeth, South London, 1947.

Although Bowie recently turned down an opportunity to perform at the Olympic Closing ceremony (where his decision was due to his reluctance to play live generally, than any political decision), Bowie has had a life-long association with the city. Born and raised in one of London’s multicultural centers, Brixton, in South London, Bowie has earned a reputation as one of pop music’s most influential artists of the twentieth century, mentioned in the same breath as The Beatles, Dylan and the Stones. He also used Heddon Street in Central London for his cover of the seminal ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album in 1972.

‘Bright lights, Soho, Wardour street
You hope you make friends with the guys that you meet
Somebody shows you round
Now you’ve met the London boys
Things seem good again, someone cares about you.’ (London Boys, 1967)

Other famous London pop stars: Amy Winehouse, Elton John.


Clement Attlee
Famous for being Prime Minister


Born: Putney, Borough of Wandsworth, South-West London, 1883.

Of all the famous Prime Ministers throughout British History, Attlee has had perhaps the greatest impact upon the state and yet remains one of the least well known. Following the Second World War, Winston Churchill was expected to cement his place as PM in the 1945 elections following his unerring leadership of the country through its ‘finest hour,’ but he was defeated in a landslide by Attlee’s Labour Party, and for one epoch defining reason: The National Health Service. As part of the postwar construction Attlee’s government truly created a ‘welfare state,’ nationalizing major industries and most importantly creating a free health service for the nation, one that still stands and is renowned (though not necessarily championed) the world over. He was also a major advocate of Keynsian economic policy, with the aim of achieving full employment, which remained a central theory of all British governments until the Thatcher governments of the 1970s.

Other famous London Prime Ministers: Harold Macmillan.


Queen Victoria
Famous for being the Monarch


Born: Kensington Palace, Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, South-West London, 1819.

So it’s fair to say that most Kings and Queens of England could have laid claim to be on this list, so I decided to include the monarch that has overseen arguably the greatest transformation of the city into the modern day metropolis that stands today. Put simply, Victoria’s reign in the 19th century saw Britain reap the benefits of the Industrial Revolution to see the country develop the largest empire in history at its height, with the city of London firmly at its center. For approximately a century from the beginning of Victoria’s rule (1830s) to just after World War One, London was the largest city in the world.

Other famous London Monarchs: Henry VIII, Elizabeth I.


Alfred Hitchcock
Famous for Film Directing


Born: Leytonstone, Borough of Waltham Forest, East London, 1899.

One of cinema’s great directors, Hitchcock was a pioneer in the suspense and thriller genres, developing techniques that are now fundamental elements in many horror movies. In 2002 the American magazine MovieMaker named him the most influential filmmaker of all time. He enjoyed almost unrivaled success in the 1950s and 1960s with films such as ‘Vertigo,’ ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘Psycho,’ which have since become cinema classics. Hitchcock location walks through the streets of London are now thriving which take in areas used in films such as ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much.’

Other Famous London Film Directors: Michael Winner, David Lean.


Charlie Chaplin
Famous for Acting/Directing


Born: Walworth, Borough of Southwark, South-East London, 1889.

The icon of Hollywood’s golden age of the early twentieth century, Charlie Chaplin one of the most famous stars in cinema history. Beginning with silent movie acting eventually moving into acting and directing ‘talkies,’ Chaplin was arguably the most famous celebrity in the world in the years between both World Wars. Born into a gypsy family in a street that houses one of South London’s busiest markets, Chaplin developed his famous slapstick routines on the London Vaudeville circuit. Famed for his wonderful comic performances, notably in ‘The Tramp,’ Chaplin was also capable of producing truly mesmeric portrayals of drama, such as his spine-tingling monologue denouncing Fascism at the culmination of ‘The Great Dictator,’ the ultimate depiction of satire on film, at a time when Western Europe was at the mercy of Hitler’s Nazis (at the time Hitler was an avid fan of Chaplin, owning all of his movies on film reel).


Samuel Pepys
Famous for being a Londoner

Samuel Pepys 700

Born: Fleet Street, City of London, 1633.

It could be justifiably argued that no other person has contributed to our knowledge of 17th century London than Samuel Pepys. With his exquisitely kept diaries, Pepys recorded in particular three major British historical events that he was present to witness: The Great Plague, The Great Fire and The Second Anglo-Dutch War. As a naval administrator he was also present at the execution of King Charles I in the aftermath of the English Civil War. As well as these important eye witness accounts, Samuel Pepys’ diaries have helped us understand 17th century London society more than any other historical source. So for his impact upon the historical legacy of this great city, Samuel Pepys has earned my top spot!

“Having staid, and in an hour’s time seen the fire: rage every way, and nobody, to my sight, endeavoring to quench it, but to remove their goods, and leave all to the fire, and having seen it get as far as the Steele-yard, and the wind mighty high and driving it into the City; and every thing, after so long a drought, proving combustible, even the very stones of churches, and among other things the poor steeple by which pretty Mrs.— lives, and whereof my old school-fellow Elborough is parson, taken fire in the very top, an there burned till it fell down.” (Samuel Pepys Diary, 2nd September 1666)

  • Missy

    What about Jack the Ripper?

    Good list. Very much enjoyed this.

    • HJRO

      Jack the Ripper
      Famous for killing prostitutes.

      Not sure if it fits in with the rest of the entries on the list

    • ww

      I’d like to see jack the ripper too. It might raise my opinion of this list if I did.

      • Jack the ripper’s identity is unknown. Therefore, how could we know where he was from? Just because He killed in London doesn’t mean he was born there. Therefore, He’s not eligible for the list. Think it through.

        • Good point, the claims he was a Russian, German and Hungarian have all been made.

        • Beej

          That’s exactly what I thought.

        • Murphy’s Dog

          Actually no. The latest theory on why he was never caught is that he was so nondescript and unremarkable that he simply melted into the background. He obviously had no outstanding characteristics like a foreign accent, which rules out all the Polish, Russian, American etc contenders. Given that a foreign accent in London would include those from the next borough let alone from somewhere else in Britain, plus he also obviously knew the area very well , leads to the inescapable conclusion that hw was born and raised very close to where he committed his crimes. Almost certainly he was a local workman who could move freely in the course of his job without arousing any suspicion.

          • It still just a theory. Not fact. You still can’t prove it, so as an entry he’s still not valid. End of. My point still stands.

  • honkster7

    Pete Townshend

    • Maggot

      Why stop there? Every member of The Who was born in London. As was, not surprisingly, many other iconic rock stars, such as Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Brian May, Phil Collins, Elton John, Johnny Rotten…enough to make a whole list (which of course the writer wanted to avoid).

      • anonymust

        David Bowie is overrated. Good call maggot.

      • Zoso

        Jimmy Paaaaaaage!

      • Ash

        Brian May! Brian May! Brian May! How come he didn’t make the list?

    • Headmire

      Pete Townshend famous for being arrested for child porn

  • honkster7

    Billy Bragg

  • honkster7

    Elisabeth Taylor

  • Zest

    Just want to point out, Clement Attlee is not exactly a top famous londoner, seeing as most people have no idea who he is. Hell I’d bet the current Mayor of London Boris Johnson has no idea who he is

  • Not Being Fresh

    Is that a picture of Linda McCartney jazzercizing or David Bowie?

    I’ve also heard that Charlie Chaplin (in costume) was the most well-known person ever. By that I think they meant the highest majority of people could identify him. It makes sense because he has such an identifiable look and language isn’t an issue.

    • Vincent

      Didn’t realize how proficient he was a roller-skater until I saw one of his old flicks. Pretty good considering those clunky old wheels.

  • Will Trame

    It was nice to see Hitchc.ock here. He was definitely an influential director. Too bad the narrative neglected mentioning his television program which ran for nearly a decade. There were a number of unnerving episodes.

    As seminal as David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album was, it was a neglected masterwork in the States where it peaked at #75. Bowie didn’t amass any recognition in the US until “Space Oddity” was re-released in 1973.

  • Nice try, but this list is too American.

    • Borten

      Agreed. Not nearly enough swag, dawg.

    • Lol

      I love satire

      • Maggot

        Even if it is predictable, repetitive, and stale?

  • bigd1ckman

    Olly murrs? The made in chelsea cast? C’mon, at least put someone interesting in it.

    • Gina

      Olly Murs is an Esse.x lad, through and through – don’t call anyone from Esse.x a Londoner!

    • Andrew

      You think those people are interesting? You are joking right?

  • david

    You forgot Ben. Famous for telling time.

    • Vicki Samuels

      LOL! presumably you mean “Big Ben”. It’s an inanimate object for goodness sake, it’s obvious why it couldn’t be included in the list… *think* before you post next time. x

    • Vincent

      Technically, Big Ben is the name if the tower’s bell, not the clock. :)

  • jason

    This list is too American!

    • Magnus

      Hahahaha, I see what you did there :D

      When will you be on the television?

      Sad little man.

  • Paul

    This list is too English. I mean the people.

  • Gina

    I hate to be pedantic, but we don’t use the £20 note shown in entry #9 anymore, we’ve had 2 different designs since then!

    • … It has Michael Faraday’s portrait on it.

  • comeoutyeblack&tans

    Bunch of limey phom sods!

    • Isn’t it spelt pohm?

      A lame mouth-breather with a sense of self-entitlement!

  • AttIc

    i dont know about the rest of these wankers, but Katies got a nice set of tatas! would love to see her sis running around in a thong!

  • Jobrag

    Boris Johnson is a very intellegent well read man he could give you chapter and verse on Clem

    • Sylar

      He was born in the right continent to qualify for this list though.

      • Sylar

        * wasn’t

    • Zest

      He is also a complete buffoon.

  • New superstar

    Why doesnt anyone write any list about crimes, mysteries and all that interesting stuffs anymore???… Whats next on the list…”Top 10 nothing”…???

    • Kazza

      Why don’t you write a list about something interesting?

  • Pippa

    Bloody Colon-ialists!

    • New superstar

      100% agreed…

  • m

    if this is the best london has to offer, then what a crappy citizenry. ONLY # 3 has accomplishments of any importance. and # 4, what did she do of any importance that she didnt do by being born.

  • Maggie

    Why is there only one woman? There are plenty of famous female Londoners, heard of Lady Di? How about Margaret Thatcher?

    • simple really. neither are londoners

  • marc

    btw this list is waaaaay too british

  • Sbtier

    Should have included Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II. Both are more famous than most entrants in this list.

  • marc

    what again did diane spencer do of any importance. oh thats right shes well known. now margrite thatcher is one very accomplished person. her and ronnie helped keep the world free so the left wing dumb-asses can wallow in their filth freely.

  • Pippa

    What a stupid, disjointed list!
    Totally uninspiring, Clive!
    Such a load of yawners!
    Get out much, Clive?
    #1, over-rated, pseudo-Londoner, Irish kak-actor looks like he swollowed his fukcing left foot! U-g-l-y!
    Of course, David Backham looks just so fine even tho i can’t see his package in this pic. SHAME on you Londoners for snubbing him @ Olympics 2O12 although
    it’s all Americans’ fault!

    • m4xmark

      He deserved to be snubbed! An overrated moron from Essex!

      • Headmire

        Obviously not overrated is he you nugget, you don’t get to be one of the first names on the team sheet for 2 of the worlds biggest clubs, win numerous titles and cups, play in 3 world cups and captain your country by being overrated. Stop listening to idiot critics and actually watch a game yourself

        • m4xmark

          Meh!…. who is he anyway??

  • whoelse

    What about Christopher Nolan

    • rex

      My thoughts exactly.

  • Rosie

    What an interesting list! Would like to see a second list please

  • Jeff

    Great to see Clem Atlee included and recognised. He is regarded as our greatest Prime Minister. Well done Clive – an intelligent and well thought out list. Must have been difficult to compile such an eclectic mix of people.Another list please Clive!

  • steen

    Where is the Queen? She was born in London, Mayfair.

  • angelswan

    What about jason Statham

    • Really?

      Don’t make me sick. Hundreds of years worth of history and you write that?

      Must be a troll….

  • Maggot

    What about…what about…what about… Let’s just cut to the chase:

    • Headmire

      Lol @ one of the first names on that list Abi Titmus outstanding

      • Pippa

        I see what u mean. LOL! PAGE 3 HISTORICAL SITE! Wonder what she looks like now? Maybe not.

        • Headmire

          To fair to her she practically invented the celebrity sex tape so she was somewhat of a trend setter in that respect paving the way of host of further [email protected]

  • j.c.

    Interesting list. Fun to read. I loved Queen Victoria because she caused the British Empire to its zenith; also, her tragic story as a widow dressed in black in mourning of her beloved deceased husband. I admired her greatly. What a noble woman in British monarchy included Queen Elizabeth, King James 1 and others.

    I concur with the commentators suggested Jack the Ripper to the top famous Londoners. 3 reasons:

    1) I firmly believed Jack the Ripper was a true Londoner because of his familiarity of the georgraphraphic metropolitan city of London.

    2) He was really a physican under Queen Victoria to get rid of the prostitutes under order because Duke of Clarence was involved in having sex with the prostitutes. One of the poor prostitutes got pregnant. The unborn child is entitled to the British throne. Remember Princess Diane got killed because she got pregnant with an Arab guy to prevent the half British/half Arab to the British throne in somewhat similar pattern what British monarchy did get rid of the prostitutes and as to Princess Diane. IF they did so, that is chilling thought of how British monarchy keeps in their absolute power to keep their royal blood stay free of “tainted” genealogical line. The true identity, of course remain unknown. Some claimed the identity is Dr. Gull. Again, I don’t know. One thing is obviously the physican as the Jack the Ripper.

    3) Jack the Ripper was a member of a secret society called Masonic Lodge. One distinguished member in same secret society that Jack the Ripper was member of is Sir Robert Anderson. Sir Robert Anderson was the chief of Police at that time gruesome murders occurred. I believed Jack and Sir Robert KNEW each other with in the secret society. Why would the secret society remain in high security alert ON ORDER for Jack the Ripper go on killing mission to end the some prostitutes’ lives? To compare the modern serial killers, most of them went on killing as many as 20-perhaps 50 people until the law enforcement agencies caught them. In case of Jack the Ripper, he killed them in a very limited time allowed, then mysteriously halted the mission. That means something was an inside job to protect the pure British monarchy and its throne. If it is true, it would be mind-boggling scandal in the history of Great Britain.

    • Maggot

      I firmly believed Jack the Ripper was a true Londoner because of his familiarity of the georgraphraphic metropolitan city of London.

      Interesting post, but flaw in your reasoning – A person can be intimately familiar with a city, especially if they have lived there for many years, without necessarily having to have been born there. A London birthplace isn’t a requirement of your other two reasoning points either.

      Remember Princess Diane got killed because she got pregnant with an Arab guy to prevent the half British/half Arab to the British throne in somewhat similar pattern what British monarchy did get rid of the prostitutes and as to Princess Diane.

      Don’t know if this is true or not, but even if so, her child from that union would not have been an heir the British throne, as she herself was not in the line of succession, even if she had stayed married to Charles and eventually became Queen Consort. Just as the husband of the reigning Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, is not in the line of succession and can’t ever become King.

    • Pippa

      Imagin that? Not! What a lot of drivel some comments are. Trying to make conversation out of nothing. Talking about London weather’s more exciting. Or, pi** warm Watson ale.
      Go to bed, all of you!
      Clive, don’t come back here again with another silly list like this one! Clive drools!

    • MissMeggle

      Uh… It’s Princess Diana not Diane. And even if she was pregnant the child would have had no claim to the throne as A) it would have been illegitimate B) Neither Diana nor Dodi were members of the royal family.
      Also don’t state your beliefs as facts. There’s no proof of any of your above statements regarding Jack the Ripper other than he murdered prostitutes in Victorian London.

  • TobyA

    Elton John was not from London?

  • Cathy

    Good research and a great discussion starting point. One question why Queen Victoria and not Elizabeth I?
    It is about time Clement Atlee is at the top of the list of Prime Minsters it was his government who gave us the great NHS he defeated the so called greatest prime minster Churchill in 1945 and showed that you don’t have to be a PR guru to be successful. Well done Clive!!!!

  • Caleb

    Great list.

  • I truly enjoyed this list. Makes me wish I could afford a trip to London. Well done.

  • I really enjoyed this list. Makes me wish I could a trip to London. Well done.

  • You might have included at least one fictional Londoner: Sherlock Holmes.

  • Dan

    No Winston Churchill?

    • Winston Churchill Jnr

      No. Did you read the list? He wasn’t there. Therefore Winston Churchill was not in this list which means that there was no Winston Churchill related placement within this list. Hence from this there was a significant lack of Winston Churchill being in this list.

      So no, no Winston Churchill for you. You have been banned from approaching the man within five hundred yards and if the break the terns of this condition Winston Churchill will be sad.

      You made him cry. It’s all your fault.

    • Spritz

      Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. He represented the seat of Westminster at one stage, but declined the offer of becoming Duke of London after the war, which would have made him technically a Londoner.

  • Exlibris

    No love for Bob Hope?

  • lemuel aguarin

    how about jack the ripper

    • Headmire

      Try reading a couple of lines up before making a ridiculous comment

  • jun mi


    • Headmire

      Really?? Your either really bad at trying to be funny or an absolute retard.

    • MissMeggle

      Famous LONDONERS…London is a city not a country and The Beatles are from Liverpool.

  • Kazza

    What about Winston Churchill?

    • If you read the opening paragraph he was not included because he was not a londoner. simple.

  • Bernat Bauçà Marroig

    Jack the Ripper (real one).

    Sherlock Holmes (fiction one).

    • ????

      You must have brain damage. No one could be as stupid, surely?

  • TheTruth

    All I can say is “Bizarre Choices”

  • Kayleigh

    David Bowie is from Bromley. We’re quite proud of it really. His picture is up in my local next to Orson Welles…

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  • sam

    im british and read this site but you got two things wrong 1 becks is from manchester north england so hes not a lpndoner london in the south manchester in the north and that fella on the 20s was on the 20 now adam smiths on them now

    • Yarko

      Beckham is from London you fool.

      The rest of your sentence is hard to decipher as your punctuation is non-existant.

  • stan

    How could you leave out Adele? She’s the best singer of this generation.

    • ?

      N0. She is not.

  • Frank

    Oh, this list is too British.

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  • D

    Where is William Blake?