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LONDON: Facades, shopfronts, thirteen walks and freedom of movement: The Gentle Author, Eleanor Crow, Dan Cruickshank and Reuben Lane: Reading and Christmas Shopping.

19th December 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 10:00 pm

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Join us for a night all about London detailing the rise of ‘Facadism’, its variation of ever-changing shop fronts, the walks it winds us on and the many existences of people in our capital city. Our four readers will present their books with a brief discussion and signing. There will be mulled wine and a late opening for Christmas presents!

Tickets are free but please book to avoid disappointment.

The Gentle Author presents a provocative analysis of facadism – the unfortunate practice of destroying an old building apart from the front wall and constructing a new building behind it – revealing why it is happening and what it means. As this bizarre architectural fad has spread across the capital, The Gentle Author has photographed the most notorious examples, collecting an astonishing gallery of images guaranteed to inspire both laughter and horror in equal measure. “As if I were being poked repeatedly in the eye with a blunt stick, I cannot avoid becoming increasingly aware of a painfully cynical trend in London architecture which threatens to turn the city into the backlot of an abandoned movie studio.”

Eleanor Crow paints beautiful watercolours of classic shopfronts. As our high streets decline into generic monotony, we cherish these independent shops and family businesses that enrich the city with their characterful frontages and distinctive typography.Published in partnership with Batsford and Spitalfields Life Books, Eleanor Crow’s timely volume celebrates the small neighbourhood shops of London. This collection includes more than 100 illustrations of the capital’s bakers, cafes, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, chemists, launderettes, hardware stores, eel & pie shops, bookshops and stationers. The pictures are accompanied by the stories of the shops, their history and their shopkeepers – stretching from Chelsea in the west to Bethnal Green and Walthamstow in the east. At a time of momentous change in the high street, this witty and fascinating personal survey champions the enduring culture of Britain’s small shops.

In Dan Cruickshank’s London, Britain’s favourite architectural historian offers a tour through thirteen districts that made London into London. From the mysterious Anglo-Saxon roots of Hampstead Heath, via Christopher Wren’s magisterial City churches, to the industrial bustle of Victorian Bermondsey, each of his walks explores a crucial site in our capital’s history – and reveals how it forged the modern capital. Jumping between East Ham in the east and Kew in the west, Dan Cruickshank explores both world-famous buildings (the Tower of London and St Pancras Station) and oft-overlooked local landmarks (Dagenham Civic Centre and Kensal Green Cemetery). His tales reveal not only the most important moments in London’s history, but also the forgotten characters who witnessed them: the Huguenot weavers who transformed Spitalfields into a vibrant enclave of Georgian London, the visionary architects behind the likes of Somerset House and the Houses of Parliament, and the streetwalkers who once thronged London’s great sexual highway. Along the way, he peppers the book with beautiful photographs, historical sketches and handy maps, so you can immediately follow in his footsteps.

Reuben Lane’s Freedom of Movement is the story of six months spent on the edge of homelessness in London, a city quickly being stripped of its refuges and hospitable corners. And yet there’s still the beauty of its parks and squares, the kindness of its cafes, cinemas and commons and its vital inheritance as a queer city through the ages. It claims the freedom to move, to rest, and to love at a time when uncertainty is everywhere.


The Gentle Author is the writer and creator of Spitalfields Life. The Gentle Author has published several books and anthologies including The Life and Times of Mr. Pussy, East End Vernacular, The Gentle Author’s London Album and many more.

Eleanor Crow is an artist, illustrator and book cover designer based in London. She is the illustrator of The Pebbles on the Beach and Grief is the Thing With Feathers, and has designed for Faber, Vintage, Granta, Pushkin Press, Jonathan Cape, HarvillSecker and The Folio Society.

Dan Cruickshank is an architectural historian and television presenter. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a member of the Executive Committee of the Georgian Group, and on the Architectural Panel of the National Trust. He lives in London.

Reuben Lane lives in London where he grew up. He moonlights working in theatres and cinemas in the evenings, allowing him the daylight hours to wander, walk, cycle and write. Reuben’s short stories have been published in the film journal ‘Vertigo’ and in anthologies, including ‘The Time Out Book Of London Stories Volume 2’ and ‘Pretext Volume 1’ from UEA. Reuben’s debut novel, Throwing Stones At Jonathan (Pulp Books) was shortlisted for the Waterstones Mardi Gras Prize for best LGBT work of fiction. ‘Freedom Of Movement’ is a self published booklet of narrative non fiction with flashes of fiction written and set during the autumn and winter twelve months ago.


19th December 2019
6:30 pm - 10:00 pm