London Clay: River Lea Walking Tour with Tom Chivers and Siddhartha Bose

September 19 @ 2:00 pm 4:00 pm BST


Join author Tom Chivers and poet Siddhartha Bose for a unique walking tour exploring the River Lea’s deep history

We’re thrilled to be hosting a special event to celebrate the arrival of Tom Chivers’ new book, LONDON CLAY: JOURNEYS IN THE DEEP CITY! Spend the afternoon of Sunday 19 September strolling along the River Lea with us as Tom leads a tour exploring the deep history of one of London’s most iconic waterways. Tom will be joined by poet Siddhartha Bose for what promises to be an unforgettable insight into the river’s historic depths.

About the Walk

We will meet at Hackney Marshes Pavilion (E5 0DH) at 2pm for a walk we expect to last between 2 and 2.5 hours. We intend the pace to be comfortable for most walkers, and will provide more specific route information as well as an anticipated end point shortly before the event. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like more information regarding the walk and it’s terrain, or any other details connected with the event.

About the Book

What secrets lie beneath a city?

Tom Chivers follows hidden pathways, explores lost islands and uncovers the geological mysteries that burst up through the pavement and bubble to the surface of our streets. From Roman ruins to a submerged playhouse, from an abandoned Tube station to underground rivers, Chivers leads us on a journey into the depths of the city he loves.

A lyrical interrogation of a capital city, a landscape and our connection to place, LONDON CLAY celebrates urban edgelands: in-between spaces where the natural world and the metropolis collide. Through a combination of historical research, vivid reportage and personal memoir, it will transform how you see London, and cities everywhere.

Copies of LONDON CLAY are available to buy with your ticket for collection at the start of the event (select the Add a Copy of LONDON CLAY option at checkout), and there will be a very limited number available to purchase on the day.

About the Tour Guides

Tom Chivers is a writer, publisher and arts producer. He was born in 1983 in south London. He has released two pamphlets and two collections of poetry, the latest being Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015). His poems have been anthologised in Dear World & Everything In It and London: A History in Verse. He was shortlisted for the Michael Marks and Edwin Morgan Poetry Awards and received an Eric Gregory Award in 2011. Tom has made perambulatory, site-specific and audio work for organisations including LIFT, Cape Farewell, Humber Mouth and Southbank Centre. He was writer in residence at Bishopsgate Institute and associate artist of the National Centre of Writing. In 2009 he presented a documentary for BBC Radio 4 about the poet Barry MacSweeney. In 2011 an animated film of his poem ‘The Event’ was broadcast by Channel 4’s Random Acts. He lives in Rotherhithe with his wife and daughters.

Siddhartha Bose is a poet, playwright, academic and theatre-maker based in Hackney, London. He was born in India and spent seven years in the US. Siddhartha is the author of two poetry collections from Penned in the Margins, and has written and performed three works for theatre: Kalagora (2010), London’s Perverted Children (2012) and The Shroud (2014).

So We Live – The Novels of Alexander Baron

So We Live: The Novels of Alexander Baron
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We’re very excited to welcome Susie Thomas, Nadia Valman, and Ken Worpole to discuss SO WE LIVE, a new collection of essays exploring the work of Hackney novelist Alexander Baron.

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.

Dr Susie Thomas has taught Baron’s London novels on her literature courses to American undergraduates in London for many years. The students always say the same thing: “The Lowlife is awesome. Why isn’t Baron better known?” It is difficult to know how to answer. She has published articles on British Literature from Aphra Behn to Martin Amis. She edited HANIF KUREISHI: A READER’S GUIDE TO ESSENTIAL CRITICISM and she is the Reviews Editor for the The Literary London Journal.

Dr Nadia Valman is Reader in English Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. She has published widely on British Jewish literature, including a survey of the postwar British Jewish novel in the Oxford History of the Novel in English, editing British Jewish Women Writers and co-editing the Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures. She is the creator of Zangwill’s Spitalfields, a walking tour app using Israel Zangwill’s classic novel of Jewish immigration, Children of the Ghetto (1892) as a guide to Spitalfields, east London, where the novel is set. She is currently researching the literature of east London.

Ken Worpole is a writer on architecture, landscape and public policy, and was Emeritus Professor at the Cities Institute, London Metropolitan University. He has a particular interest in the literature of east London and Hackney, where he and his wife, the photographer, Larraine Worpole, have lived and worked since 1969. Ken’s 1983 interview with Alexander Baron formed the basis of his pioneering re-appraisal of Baron’s fiction in his first book, DOCKERS & DETECTIVES, a study of post-war British working class fiction, published in 1983 and re-issued in an updated edition by Five Leaves in 2008.

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The Adulterants: Joe Dunthorne in conversation with Jon Day

The Adulterants by Joe Dunthorne
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Ray is not a bad guy. A thirty-something freelance tech journalist living with his pregnant wife in Clapton, he is staring down the barrel of long-deferred adulthood. He mostly did not cheat on his wife. He only sometimes despises every one of his friends. And, while he spends his afternoons churning out third-rate listicles in his boxer briefs, he dreams of making a difference. But Ray is about to learn that his special talent is for making things worse.

With lacerating wit and wry affection, Joe Dunthorne dissects the urban millennial psyche of a man too old to be an actual millennial. The Adulterants is an uproarious tale of competitively sensitive men and catastrophic open marriages, riots on the streets of London and Internet righteousness, and one man’s valiant quest to come of age in his thirties.

Joe Dunthorne was born in Swansea, and his acclaimed first novel, Submarine, was adapted into a film directed by Richard Ayoade. His second novel, Wild Abandon, won the 2012 Encore Award, and he was featured in the Faber Young Poets series in 2016. He lives in London.

Jon Day is a writer, academic and cyclist. He worked as a bicycle courier in London for several years, and his book, Cyclogeography: Journeys of a London Bicycle Courier, was published in 2015. He is a lecturer in English Literature at King’s College London, and he writes for the London Review of Books, n+1, the New Statesman and others.

The Hackney Society at 50

Hackney: portrait of a community 1967-2017
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Join us as we mark 50 years of The Hackney Society with a panel discussion from Julia Lafferty, Ian Rathbone, Alan Rossiter, and Laurie Elks, four of the contributors to Hackney: portrait of a community 1967-2017.

Hackney is one of the London boroughs that has changed most radically over the past fifty years. In 1967 it was one of the poorest areas of the capital, the home of a combination of light industry and much inadequate housing, with a largely working-class population. But Hackney could also boast some of the fine historic buildings of London, which is why Sir John Betjeman was persuaded to become the Society’s first President.

Today, the picture is very different. Hackney is regarded as cool, hip, the smart place to live and work, with easy access to the City. It is also home to many cultures from every part of the world. Some of its historic buildings and open spaces have survived, though not all, despite campaigns to try to save them. And the picture is complex. As one longtime Hackney resident has pointed out, in some ways the place is very much the same as it was fifty years ago, but for some, it remains an area of deprivation and violence.

Hackney: portrait of a community 1967-2017 features fifty specially commissioned pieces from a whole range of authors, who have drawn on their own experiences and expertise. The subjects covered range from social issues such as housing, the question of ‘regeneration’ and education, to the cultural, with the demise of dog racing, the opening of Centerprise and the flourishing of the theatre as exemplified by the Arcola and the Hackney Empire. The darker side is not glossed over, with a piece on the death of Colin Roach by Duncan Campbell, and the riots of 2011.

Julia Lafferty was a founder member of the campaign to save Sutton House in the 1980s. She is a trustee of the Hackney Society, serves on the Clapton Conservation Area Advisory Committee and has written articles for Hackney Society publications and for Hackney History. She acts as secretary to the Friends of Clapton Cinematograph Theatre and as an advisor on heritage issues to Clapton Arts Trust.

Ian Rathbone has worked all his life as a journalist, writer and designer and has received a number of national awards for campaigns, including one which significantly reduced street robbery in Hackney, and for his role in the disturbances of 2011. He has been a councillor for Lea Bridge Ward since 2002. Ian was born in Hackney and traces his family in the borough back to at least 1862.

Alan Rossiter is an artist, designer and public art consultant who has worked in Hackney since 1972 and lived in the borough from 1977. Alan was organiser of the Hackney Marsh Fun Festival and Fireshow, first artistic director of Chats Palace and associate director of Free Form Arts Trust.

Laurie Elks has lived in Hackney since 1972. He is a trustee of the Hackney Society and Hackney Historic Buildings Trust and a custodian of St Augustine’s Tower, the borough’s oldest building. He has campaigned for for the protection of the Lea Valley since the 1970s. He was previously a lawyer working on the investigations of miscarriages of justice.

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2023: A Trilogy by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

2023: A Trilogy by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu
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£17.99 / hardcover


23 years on from their dramatic departure from the music industry, the return of The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (A.K.A. The KLF, A.K.A. The Timelords, A.K.A. The JAMs etc) is every bit as beguilingly weird and perversely entertaining as you might have imagined. 2023 is a sprawlingly elaborate meta-fictional retelling of both their own shadowy mythology and the history of popular music and culture as a whole, heavily entangled with Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! trilogy, the end of the internet, and, uh, Hackney. Have Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty succeeded in forging new ground for dystopian fiction? Did they just bang this out in a week cos they really needed the cash? Was this the most elaborate book launch in history? Don’t open 2023 hoping to find answers to these or any other questions, but do expect to forever see the Shard a little differently.

Published by Faber & Faber on August 23rd 2017