‘The most fun I have ever had with dead bodies’ and ‘Death becomes her’ – well, Times parliamentary sketch writer Ann Treneman was sort of asking for comments like those (from Bill Bryson and the Daily Mail, incidentally) when she published her book Finding the Plot: 100 Graves to Visit Before You Die.

It’s a fascinating tome – part travelogue, part biography and part social history – in which the Barnet resident takes you to some of the most interesting graves in Britain, 50 of which are in London, and most of those in north London.

“I definitely think that London cemeteries have the most interesting people and that north London has more interesting dead people per square mile than anywhere in the world!“

Revisit the lives – and deaths – of lion tamers, Victorian bare-knuckle boxers, highwaymen, the man who invented tightrope walking across Niagara Falls, Byron and his dog Botswain, the original War Horse, plus kings and queens, the real James Bond, Karl Marx – and, in the St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley, Cora Crippen, showgirl and the wife and murder victim of the infamous Dr Crippen, in 1910.

“Her grave isn’t that easy to find,“ says Ann, 57, who hails from Oregon in the US, “I had to ask in the cemetery office. They told me that it’s probably not even her body under there.

"Crippen and his new girlfriend fled to Canada, but the captain recognised the fugitives and sent a wireless telegram to the British authorities – the first time this had ever been done from a ship. Crippen was brought back to London, tried and hanged at Pentonville Prison.

“But they only found partial remains, not a body,“ Ann explains, “so there’s always been a suspicion that somehow Cora escaped to America and that it’s actually someone else buried there.“

Compiling the book took a great deal of research and travel, something Ann really enjoyed.

“I’ve always liked cemeteries,“ she says, “I find them really interesting. People don’t think ‘It’s a nice day, let’s go to the cemetery’, but when I was visiting them – ‘going graving’ as a I call it – I found there were actually a lot of people there, just looking around, looking at the graves, or walking their dogs.“

You should pick up a copy of Ann’s book and give it a try yourself – it’ll be the most fun you’ll ever have with dead bodies.

  • Finding the Plot: 100 Graves to Visit Before You Die is published by The Robson Press. Details: therobsonpress.com