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The London Nobody Knows (1962)

by Geoffrey Fletcher

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932252,815 (3.63)2
Geoffrey Fletcher's London was not the big landmarks, but rather 'the tawdry, extravagant and eccentric'. He wrote about parts of the city no-one ever had before. This could be an art nouveau pub, a Victorian music hall, a Hawksmoor church or even a public toilet in Holborn in which the attendant kept goldfish in the cisterns. He was drawn to the corners of the city where 'the kids swarm like ants and there are dogs everywhere'. This classic book was originally published in 1962 and has been in and out of print ever since. In 1967 it was turned into an acclaimed documentary film starring James Mason. Following a series of sold out screenings at the Barbican and the ICA, the film was re-released on DVD in 2008. This book is a must-have for anyone with an interest in London, and will surprise even those who think they know it well.… (more)
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Entertaining stories and drawings of a bygone London. Reading this book is like stepping into a time machine for a couple of hours. ( )
  datrappert | Oct 22, 2016 |
Not quite…
… I do, or did. This book is a delightful read, and as it is generously illustrated with the author’s own artwork, is also eye-candy for London-lovers. Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher was more known for his art than his writing, but as an author he reads well, entertains and informs. I was delighted to be reminded of a city I once knew well, having lived and worked there for more than a decade and visited hundreds of times since.

There was even a description and charming sketch of a ‘local’, a pub near my London office where I would often go after work with my team for “a swift half”. No such thing of course and given London’s continued rapacious growth there is probably no such thing as this pub, or many more of his delightful views.

With a light wit he describes and offers us a drawing of a famous Victorian “Public Convenience” in Holborn that had glass water tanks for flushing. He is delighted to discover, from chatting to the then current attendant, that the mans predecessor claimed to have actually kept fish in the glass tanks, and Fletcher muses of the confusion those fish must have experienced every time the cistern flushed and their water drained!

This is a book for future re-reading and for dipping into for refreshed memories and to re-enjoy the sketches… and it would make, still, an entertaining guide for any visitor new to London.
1 vote John_Vaughan | May 20, 2011 |
Showing 2 of 2
I love the way Fletcher puts a fresh twist on places I thought I knew, like the Camden Head pub in Islington. Thanks to him, I started noticing details like the bell-pushes by the tables for attracting the attention of the bar staff. They still work! He was obsessed with London and believed that ‘a man can do everything better in London: think better, eat and cheat better, even enjoy the country better’.
 
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Geoffrey Fletcher's London was not the big landmarks, but rather 'the tawdry, extravagant and eccentric'. He wrote about parts of the city no-one ever had before. This could be an art nouveau pub, a Victorian music hall, a Hawksmoor church or even a public toilet in Holborn in which the attendant kept goldfish in the cisterns. He was drawn to the corners of the city where 'the kids swarm like ants and there are dogs everywhere'. This classic book was originally published in 1962 and has been in and out of print ever since. In 1967 it was turned into an acclaimed documentary film starring James Mason. Following a series of sold out screenings at the Barbican and the ICA, the film was re-released on DVD in 2008. This book is a must-have for anyone with an interest in London, and will surprise even those who think they know it well.

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