The novelist Alexander Baron (1917-1999) was born into a working class Jewish home in Hackney, joined the Communist Party as a young man, saw the thick of battle in Sicily & Normandy, & became one of the most admired writers of post-war Britain. His first novel, From the City, From the Plough (1948), was acclaimed as the definitive novel of the Second World War, the first of a trilogy including There’s No Home (1950) & The Human Kind (1953). This was followed by a string of novels about working class life in post-war London, including The Lowlife (1963) a cult novel for many other writers ever since. In recent years his reputation has flourished with many of his fifteen novels back in print. This is the first detailed study of the man and his work.

Susie Thomas has taught Baron’s novels for many years and is the reviews editor for The Literary London Journal. Andrew … More

Spring 1944, the south coast of England. The Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment wait patiently and nervously for the order to embark. There is boredom and fear, comedy and pathos as the men – all drawn from different walks of life – await the order to move. From The City, From The Plough is a vivid and moving account of the fate of these men as they set off for Normandy and advance into France. The novel is not about the actual fighting alone; the larger part of it paints a picture of what happens in between battles and before: the training, the discipline, the boredom; about how the military machine uproots individuals, throws them together in new environments and forces them to establish new personal relationships.

The novel contains many living character sketches of seemingly quiet and timid individuals who grow in stature in the face … More

London ‘is an archipelago of life’, declares Alexander Baron in the opening pages of this novel. ‘The millions of Londoners are really broken up into tens of thousands of little clusters of life. Each is gathered round some centre, perhaps a street … Within each of these little hives people live for each other as well as for themselves, and life generates a comfortable warmth.’ Rosie Hogarth is about one such little hive in the years immediately after the Second World War. Lamb Street is a respectable, inward looking working class enclave in south Islington, close to the Angel and to Chapel Market. The novel stands out for its profound sense of place. But alongside the warmth of community is the chill of exclusion..

The ‘man or woman who tries to settle in London without gaining admission to one of these communities’, Baron writes … More

The novelist Alexander Baron (1917-1999) was born into a working class Jewish home in Hackney, joined the Communist Party as a young man, saw the thick of battle in Sicily and Normandy, and became one of the most admired writers of post-war Britain. His first novel, From the City, From the Plough (1948), was acclaimed as the definitive novel of the Second World War, the first of a trilogy including There’s No Home (1950) and The Human Kind (1953). This was followed by a string of novels about working class life in post-war London, including The Lowlife (1963) a cult novel for many other writers ever since. In recent years his reputation has flourished with many of his fifteen novels back in print. This is the first detailed study of the man and his work.

Susie Thomas has taught Baron’s novels for many years and is the reviews editor for The Literary London Journal. Andrew … More

The War Baby is a compelling account of bravery and betrayal in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. Amid the last, faltering, steps to repulse General Franco’s fascists, a young British Communist, Frank Brendan, heads to Barcelona on behalf of the Party. He becomes part of a hedonistic elite at the helm of what’s left of Republican Spain before being sent to the battle front during the ill-fated Ebro offensive of 1938 – Republican Spain’s last stand against the advancing falangists. He is a political commissar to the British troops among the International Brigades; his task is to ‘expose the bad elements’. Eventually, Brendan picks up a gun and joins an increasingly brutal and unequal battle alongside ill-equipped Volunteers. Few of the British Brigaders make it out alive; none are unscathed. The War Baby is a blistering account of the corrupting of the struggle against fascism. It is deeply critical of international Communism while compassionate and generous towards those who enrolled under that flag.

Alexander Baron was born Joseph Alexander Bernstein in 1917 to Jewish parents. His first novel, From the City, From the … More

It is a book about East End boys & West End girls, bed-sit land & dockland, the homeless & the homesick, immigrants & emigrants. All human life is here – high-minded Hampstead & boozy Fitzrovia, the Jewish East End, intellectual Bloomsbury & Chinese Limehouse, Black London, Asian London, Irish London, Gay London…

Andrew Whitehead on The Nether World by George Gissing Andrew Lane on The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle … More

Rosie Hogarth is about one such little hive in the years immediately after the Second World War. Lamb Street is a respectable, inward looking working class enclave in south Islington, close to the Angel & to Chapel Market. The novel stands out for its profound sense of place. But alongside the warmth of community is the chill of exclusion.

The ‘man or woman who tries to settle in London without gaining admission to one of these communities’, Baron writes … More