Famous people from Hackney: who has lived or studied in the borough?

Credit: Jonny Walton for National Media Museum

Man of the moment Idris Elba (Luther, The Wire) was born in Hackney, but how many other famous people from Hackney are there?

It turns out, quite a lot. Here’s a list of our favourite current and former Hackney residents.

Edgar Allan Poe

Going back a fair few years, the thriller/suspense writer, famous for stories like The Raven and The Pit and the Pendulum, attended the Manor School in Stoke Newington, circa 1820. He said of Stoke Newington: “In truth, it was a dream like and spirit soothing place, that venerable old town. At this moment, I fancy, I feel the refreshing chilliness of its deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with undefinable delight, at the deep hollow note of the church-bell, breaking, each hour, with sullen and sudden roar, upon the stillness of the dusky atmosphere in which the fretted gothic steeple lay imbedded and asleep.”

Barbara Windsor

Barbara Windsor was born in Shoreditch and lived in Stoke Newington. In an interview with Hackney Today in 2009, she said: “Stoke Newington was in my life until I was about 22. I went back recently, my house isn’t there anymore, but the area hasn’t really changed at all. Clissold Park is wonderful. It was a favourite place of mine, I used to love the swings and zoo and concerts. I used to hang around outside the Spread Eagle pub on Newington Green, waiting for my granddad to come out and give me tuppence. They were very, very happy times.”

Lord Alan Sugar

The big-time entrepreneur well-known for his no-nonsense attitude hails from Hackney, and attended the Brooke House Secondary School in Upper Clapton in the 60s. He now lives in Chigwell, Essex, and said of his upbringing and consequent success: “I was born in Hackney. When you’re born in Hackney and you do well in life, you move to Chigwell.”

Noel Fielding

The comedian was born in Westminster, and is most known for his roles in The Mighty Boosh. He lived in a flat in Hackney with nine other people while at college, which helped form the basis of a 2012 comedy show, Luxury Comedy.

John Simon Ritchie – AKA Sid Vicious

The bass guitarist for British punk group The Sex Pistols lived in Hackney in the early 70s. He also met John Lydon at the then-named Hackney Technical College in 1973. The rest, as they say, is history.

Famous people in Hackney: Honourable mentions

Leona Lewis – lived in Stamford Hill

Paloma Faith – lived in Stoke Newington

Colin Firth – lived in Sutton Place, Homerton

Alfred Hitchcock – started his career designing title cards at Gainsborough Pictures in Hoxton

Ray Winstone – born in Homerton