Born OTD in 1923, Trinidad-born writer, Samuel ‘Sam’ Selvon. At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry ‘Sir Galahad’ Oliver and shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold and foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo?

But the irrepressible newcomer cannot be cast down. He and all the other lonely new Londoners – from shiftless Cap … More

Adrift in Soho was Colin Wilson’s second published novel. It appeared on September 4th, 1961 in the trademark yellow Victor Gollancz dust-jacket and was published six weeks later by Houghton Mifflin in the US. Released one year after Ritual in the Dark, it is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story, set in the 1950s, about a young man from the provinces searching for freedom in London. In his autobiography Dreaming to Some Purpose (2004) Wilson explained that the novel had, in fact, started out as a collaboration between himself and an old Soho friend called Charles Belchier, otherwise known as Charles Russell, a Bohemian actor who appeared uncredited as the bandleader on the Titanic in the film ‘A Night to Remember’ (1958).

Essentially a philosopher, he was best known for his first book The Outsider,  a philosophical study of alienation in modern … More

Back in stock, our Gareth’s, ‘Marshland’. Marshland is a deep map of the east London marshes, a blend of local history, folklore and weird fiction, where nothing is quite as it seems. Cocker spaniel by his side, Rees wanders the marshes of Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow, avoiding his family and the pressures of life. He discovers a lost world of Victorian filter plants, ancient grazing lands, dead toy factories and tidal rivers on the edgelands of a rapidly changing city.

Ghosts are his friends. As strange tales of bears, crocodiles, magic narrowboats and apocalyptic tribes begin to manifest themselves, Rees … More

Born OTD in 1876, John Griffith London, AKA Jack London. The People of the Abyss is a book by Jack London about life in the East End of London in 1902. He wrote this first-hand account after living in the East End for several weeks, sometimes staying in workhouses or sleeping on the streets. In his attempt to understand the working-class of this deprived area of London the author stayed as a lodger with a poor family. The conditions he experienced and wrote about were the same as those endured by an estimated 500,000 of the contemporary London poor.

As well as being a literary masterpiece, The People of the Abyss stands as a major sociological study. While other … 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

London is in a state of constant transformation, layer upon layer built up over centuries of destruction and reconstruction. There is so much change all around us that we scarcely notice it, but among the areas now vanished and forgotten are some of the city’s most famous, and infamous, neighbourhoods.

  Vanished City takes us to ten areas, well-known in their day,which have disappeared from the A-Z. Each chapter tells … More

Penny Pepper has led an extraordinary life. She is a writer. Poet. Punk. Pioneer. Activist. And she also happens to be disabled. In her absorbing memoir, which spans the mid-80s up until the millennium, Penny paints a picture of life, love, sex, music, success, failure and misadventures in the UK punk scene of the late 20th century. Craving freedom from the poor Chiltern Hill council estate where she grew up, Penny dreams of moving to London, of writing, of finding her way in the North London music scene.

She doesn’t have what others take for granted; she is disabled. And she sets out with just her raw, burgeoning … More