Spitalfields Life: In the midst of life I woke to find myself living in an old house beside Brick Lane in the East End of London Paperback – 6 Jun 2013
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Sam Johnson would have said, "If you aren't reading Spitalfields Life, you are tired of life, " etc. It's wondrous. (Twitter @ Skdadl)
If someone created a local blogs award ceremony, Spitalfields Life would sweep the nominations list like the King's Speech. We'd certainly select it for best blog, best interviews and best (relative) newcomer. The format is simple, but done with panache. Every single day, the 'gentle author' tracks down a fascinating local character for an interview and photo shoot. Just in the past three days we've had a foam merchant, a man with 330-year-old wallpaper, and a selection of clowns at the annual Grimaldi service. Whatever next? (The Londonist)
Lovingly drawn portraits of remarkable, ordinary folk . . . a towering achievement . . . SPITALFIELDS LIFE is undoubtedly a significant work of social history (Guardian)
My London book of the year. . . A quite beautiful design from Saltyard Books. . . East End life tumbles from these pages in truly Chaucerian abundance. . . Each interviewee fits a piece into the magnificent mosaic. As a result of this painstaking work of listening, shaping and explaining, comments the Gentle Author, "the city has become a more human place for me". It will for every reader too (Independent)
Following in the footsteps of Dickens, Pepys and Orwell, the author blends history with interviews in a series of short pen portraits . . . An elegantly presented, generous and good-natured book, it offers an antidote to the sense of disconnection a big city such as London can engender. A city is its people and here they are celebrated in a way that will resonate beyond the East End (Financial Times Weekend)
For a unique insight into everyday life in the East End, let blogger The Gentle Author take you on a journey into Spitalfields' street life, art, markets, houses and culture . . . A treasure trove (Evening Standard ES magazine)
These wonderful stories shine anew in an attractive, beautifully illustrated book format. We can't recommend it highly enough (Londonist)
This fine collection includes many memorable episodes on the history and heritage of the area, and many colourful characters such as a rhyme collector, street artist, rapper, mudlark and a master bell founder (The Times)
For the brief time of reading, one steps into the skin of the subject, and inhabits them. Inherits them, perhaps. (Evening Standard)
SPITALFIELDS LIFE points you to London's hidden gems (Stylist)
Charming yarns and fascinating nuggets of local history . . . there's plenty to admire in this endearing, beautifully illustrated volume (Time Out)
A lovely book . . . A celebration of London life in all its unpredictable quirkiness, a paean to what the Gentle Author sees as Londoners' defining feature - their resourcefulness . . . They are given a fitting memorial in these eloquent pages (Times Literary Supplement)
Beguiling . . . follows in the tradition of Pepys or Dickens in its attention to the lively diversity of the city (The Lady)
A thing of sheer wonder, and I don't know where to start with all the things I love about it . . . By celebrating the extraordinary things that make this area special it must be hoped The Gentle Author will help protect them. And the sumptuous prose is accompanied by some stunning visuals. . . All in all it's a joy to hold, a joy to read and a joy to look at. (It's Nice That)
A joy to read, whether you know Spitalfields or not . . . It's not for nothing that the author's observational skills and ability to convey them to the reader have led some to liken them to Pepys and Dickens . . . Some places have a heart and a soul, a special something, and if it touches you it will grip you and hold you and captivate you. Spitalfields is such a place . . . An unusual book that's pure joy, a tribute to life (We Love This Book)
Every once in a while a book just takes my breath away. . . Spitalfields Life is evidence, were it needed, that though it is all there and free to read online, there is still something very special about the book in the hand, especially when it is a work of art in its own right (dovegreyreader.typepad.com)
The Gentle Author builds up a convincing picture of urban life below the radar of the urban sociologist . . . His accounts should be enjoyed (as they are intended to be) as relics of ordinary lives, demonstrating how the ordinary is so often extraordinary on close inspection (Spectator)
A whole piece of London is here, ghosts of Spitalfields' past haunting the vibrant present. It is unlike any other book. (Susan Hill, Spectator Books of the Year)
In an Olympic year awash with books about London, no work came close to the eccentric charm and warmth on offer in Spitalfields Life by the anonymous "Gentle Author". This deadpan blogger's encounters with East Enders old and new, now transformed into a sumptuous volume, built into an irresistible group portrait of modern metropolitans and their overlapping histories... rather like WG Sebald (Boyd Tonkin, The Independent)
Marvellous... each character glows with life, and the totality is a fascinating and multi-faceted portrait of this corner of London, which highlights both its continuities and its constant evolution (Independent on Sunday)
East End life tumbles from these cornucopian pages (Independent)
A wonderful collection of authentic, colourful stories of life in the heart of London's East End, selected from the popular blog Spitalfields Life.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a book you can pick up again and again and just reread the short articles.It's written in a very 'homely' way- if you know what I mean.
Thoroughly recommended, as is the website.
It is written really well, you just want to carry on and find out more, This book is not as boring as it may sound, far from it!!
The book is absolutely in the same mould - short articles about people (and places), in Spitalfields and arounds, and the remarkable lives they lead. It's respectful of the past without being antiquarian - and very well illustrated with some really nice drawings.
A really nice example of new media hacking it in an old format.
A book which slows us down in revealing the people around us, as we all speed up to hurry past the people we now encounter daily on the street. Best book discovery of last year.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is entirely made up of posts from the Gentle Author's blog Spitalfields Life. Although you can get all of it for free on the internet, there's something special about... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Anders Hanson
What wonderful writing - so many unexpected tooics beautifully describedPublished 9 months ago by M. Marriott
Fantastic book, bursting with life. A broad range of pieces showing the author's interest in people, places, history, illustrated with superb photographs. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Caroline Gilfillan
A fabulous work.. a fascinating glimpse into the people and characters that make up a part of London that still exists but is changing quickly.. a must read!Published 17 months ago by Valentina
SPITLEFIELDS IS SLOWLY BECOMING V MAINSTREAM WITH MANY RESTURANT CHAINS NOW SCATTERED ABOUT.THE SAME THING HAPPENEND TO CAMDEN MKT AND CAMDEN PASSAGE AT ISLINGTON. Read morePublished 23 months ago by CENTRAL LONDON MAN
I purchased this for my Dad who is an avid reader and lover of London history. He loves it. A fun and very informative read full of historical facts and wonderful anecdotes. Read morePublished on 26 Jun. 2014 by Hevita