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

Sex, pubs & rock’n’roll – King’s Cross has it all, and so much more … from a fish-&-chip shop once bugged by MI5 to London’s most enduring radical bookshop. Inside the main line station, there’s the magic of platform 9¾ … and just outside, the every bit as magical Keystone Crescent. The locality has a lighthouse, a Welsh tabernacle where services are now conducted in Amharic, social housing with a fairy-tale feel, a canal-side well built to store huge blocks of Norwegian ice, and a cruising club based in a water point which once supplied steam trains.

The area has been repeatedly re-branded ever since the 1820s, when the cinder heaps of Battlebridge were given the more … More