I’ve sung the praises of brilliant website Spitalfields Life before. Through its fantastic imagery and elegant writing, the blog celebrates London both as it was and as it is now, with no pejorative lens on either. Now the site’s enigmatic creator The Gentle Author has brought together some of the best of the site’s visual treasures in his new book The Gentle Author’s London Album.
As he explains in the foreword: "London can be a grief-inducing city. Everyone loves the London they first knew, whether as the place they grew up in or the city they came to. But as the years pass, the city of your formative experiences changes, bearing less and less resemblance to the place you discovered. Your London is taken from you.
“Yet photographs tell another story, offering beguiling visions of London as it existed before you arrived and revealing the city as a living organism, constantly evolving and renewing itself.”
“But as the years pass, the city of your formative experiences changes, bearing less and less resemblance to the place you discovered. Your London is taken from you.”
The Gentle Author
And therein lies the secret of the book’s brilliance. We are introduced to people; from a spoon carver to a cross dresser to Bob Mazzer’s Tube passengers and we explore places, like Postman’s Park, the Punch & Judy Festival and the East End’s old boozers. The book revels in the past through Victorian trading cards and amazing portraits of boxers, but it is rooted in the present too, from the wax sellers of Wentworth Street to the chicken shops opt Spitalfieds.
Whatever your relationship to the sprawling metropolis, this book is likely to change it in some way.