Jake Arnott will be giving a reading from ‘The Fatal Tree’ at the next Polari event, at Printworks in Hastings on 12 December. London, the 1720s. Welcome to ‘Romeville’, the underworld of that great city. The financial crash caused by the South Sea Bubble sees the rise of Jonathan Wild, self-styled ‘Thief-taker General’ who purports to keep the peace while brutally controlling organised crime. Only two people truly defy him: Jack Sheppard, apprentice turned house-breaker, and his lover, the notorious whore & pickpocket Edgworth Bess.

From the condemned cell at Newgate, Bess gives her account of how she & Jack formed the most famous criminal … More

Born OTD in 1919, Iranian-born novelist, poet & playwright, Doris Lessing. The landmark novel of the 60s – a powerful account of a woman searching for her personal, political & professional identity while facing rejection and betrayal. In 1950s London, novelist Anna Wulf struggles with writer’s block. Divorced with a young child, & fearful of going mad, Anna records her experiences in four coloured notebooks: black for her writing life, red for political views, yellow for emotions, blue for everyday events.

  But it is a fifth notebook – the golden notebook – that finally pulls these wayward strands of her … More

No London neighbourhood more resembles the restless downstream tide of the Thames than the ragged square mile of Soho. Ask the people who live there, like Christine Yardley, drag queen by night & grey-suited accountant by day; or Len Gates, self-appointed Soho historian & bore; or Jenny Wise, former starlet & now resident lush in the New Kismet club…

  Down into this human rabbit warren one evening slips Alex Singer, a student from Leeds in pursuit of his … 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

Hamilton’s third novel takes its name from a toy theatre & constructs a between-the-wars stage set of dreary provincial fleapit & transient West End glitter from personal experience of a profession that would dazzle, exhault & thwart him. The story of awkward ingénue Jackie begins, as did Hamilton, in Hove, from where she persues her dream to West Kensington, future backdrop of the author’s greatest dramas

Jackie’s fate is set as she steps on the train and meets Richard, a seasoned actor who will become her … 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