Brick Lane Bookshop presents a special season of events on themes of East End history and writing leading to our 20th anniversary of selling books on Brick Lane!
A stroll through the history of Bengali culture in the East End!
The Banglatown Walk is aimed at anybody interested in Bengali migration and settlement in the East End of London.
The participants will learn about the Bengali community’s history, heritage, cultural practices, and the lives of people who are of diverse backgrounds and experience different values and customs.
The experiences of Bengalis in the East End will provide a concrete example of the value of multiculturalism and the tensions it creates. The walk will look at the legacy of the British Empire and how the population of Britain has become rich & diverse through the twentieth century as migration occurred from the colonies.
Tours to start at Brick Lane Bookshop at 12pm.
Join acclaimed author and historian David Rosenberg on his tour of The Radical Jewish East End.
The East End has been a cradle of radical political and industrial struggles. The mass immigration of East European Jews mainly between the 1880s and WW1 coincided with a period in which many radical struggles took place. The new immigrants played their own part in these wider struggles by forming international workers’ education clubs, trade unions, workers cooperatives, and radical newspapers. Their agitators and polemicists made provocative speeches and engaged in protests and the occasional riot. Find out about the individuals involved in this dramatic history.
Tours to start at Brick Lane Bookshop at 12pm.
Receive a 10% discount on David Rosenberg’s books with your purchase!
Roger Mills hosts a fortnightly group for budding writers looking for constructive feedback in a welcoming environment
09/10/2023 – 18/12/2023, £40 (concessions available)
Want to write but don’t know where to start? Got a story to tell but can’t find the right words?
Join local author and writing tutor Roger Mills for practical exercises and constructive feedback in a friendly, encouraging atmosphere.
Sessions will be running fortnightly at Brick Lane Bookshop from October 9th to December 18th 6.30pm-8.30pm.
A new monthly book club exploring the depiction of London’s East End
Beginning 07/11/23, £10 per session
Oral historian & radio broadcaster Alan Dein hosts a new monthly book club which will explore how the communities and the histories of the East End have been depicted in novels and non-fiction.
From old favourites to recent discoveries, Alan will take you on an extraordinary journey from the tailoring workshops of Brick Lane to the docks of Silvertown… and you may meet a unicorn on the way!
All titles discussed will be selected from the ‘East London Classics’ section in the shop, and will be available in advance.
- Tuesday 7th November 2023 – 7.00pm (Journey through a Small Planet – Emanuel Litvinoff)
- Tuesday 5th December 2023 – 7.00pm (King Dido – Alexander Baron)
- Tuesday 9th January 2024 – 7.00pm (From Sylhet to Spitalfields – Shabna Begum)
- Tuesday 6th February 2024 – 7.00pm (Silvertown – Melanie McGrath)
Places are limited, so early booking is advised!
Tickets available online and in-store.
Events Archive – 2023
Sunday 19 November, 12pm
The first wave of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe towards the end of the 19th century, were mainly men but their families soon followed. In a period when many women fought for political and social equality in British society new immigrants were engaged too in everyday struggles in their workplaces, and on the streets in many campaigns within and beyond their community. On this walk you will discover the leading role played by women activists in the old country before emigration, and how their activism and pioneering spirit was recreated in the East End from the 1880s to the 1930s. You will meet trade union militants, anarchists and suffragettes, housing activists, health pioneers and social workers, communists and anti-fascists. They had diverse backgrounds but shared a refusal to accept second-class status in their own community and in society at large.
Stepney Words & Cockney Rebels
A day-long celebration of East End Writing in the 1970s
07/10/2023, Oxford House, Derbyshire St, Bethnal Green, E2 6HG
12pm – A Bike Ride Through Black History with Basement Writer Keith Jones
4pm – A Writers’ Workout Workshop with local author Roger Mills
5pm – SPECIAL GUEST Michael Rosen chats with Chris Searle
6pm – Eastside Stories Bring your own writing to share
6.30pm – 8.30pm – Down in the Basement
In 1971, 800 Stepney children staged a strike when their English teacher, Chris Searle, is sacked for publishing a book of their poetry that the school governors didn’t approve of. In 1973, Chris started ‘The Basement Writers’, a workshop group where locals of all ages could continue to tell their own stories.
Join ‘The Basement Writers’, Chris, and BBC broadcaster Alan Dein for ‘Down in the Basement’ a special 50th anniversary celebration of working-class writing with a rebellious East End spirit!
All day – Photographs, posters, and videos from 1970s East London, a Brick Lane Bookshop Stall, Oxford House archives, and refreshments!
Sunday Strolls: From the Nichol to the Boundary
The Story of London’s First Planned Council Estate
Behind Shoreditch High Street lies London’s first planned council estate – the Boundary Estate, opened by Edward VIII in 1900. It was created to provide clean, healthy and affordable homes to the working poor – and replaced the infamous Old Nichol slum that stood on this spot.
On this 90-minute walk, historian Sarah Wise tells the story of the creation of the estate, and reveals why the Old Nichol had to die.
Sunday Strolls: A Cache of Diamonds
Dan Glass takes us on a fierce tour of Whitechapel’s queer history!
Ever wanted to learn more about the queer history of East London? Dan Glass, author of ‘Queer Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London’s Fierce History‘, is here to guide you.
Whitechapel has a treasure chest of stories connecting across communities of class, religion, gender and sexuality. For centuries these communities have defied the knocks on our doors by authorities intent on rooting out public queer life. Don’t let the narrow streets in our pilgrimage give you the wrong impression – the impacts of queer life here are so huge, that they are felt across the world.
Join in for top tips for creating spaces that celebrate our queer lineage. Come learn from the Bethnal Green Acid Drag Commune, Red Lesbian Brigade, Rainbow Tree and Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, Muslim LGBT+ Network, East London Suffragettes, Miss Muff’s Molly House, The Battle of Cable Street, Emma Goldman, The Gay Marxist Group and the Friends of the Joiners Arms all who have contributed to creating queer utopia today.
Sunday Strolls: ‘So, you want to go to Columbia Road?’
An alternative guided tour of one of the East End’s most popular destinations
So, you want to go to Columbia Road? And who can blame you? That nice young couple with a baby, struggling to push a fully grown palm tree onto a number eight bus tells you you’re not far from Britain’s biggest flower and plant market, which only trades on Sunday mornings. But we’re not going to take the direct route. We’re going to follow some diverting diversions which show how much secret history can be found down some seemingly nondescript side-streets any day of the week.
‘Alan is the real thing, a genuine East-Ender who knows his material intimately and an extraordinary performer and writer.’ – Rachel Lichtenstein, author of ‘Estuary,’ ‘Diamond Street’ and ‘Rodinsky’s Room’ with Iain Sinclair.
The antidote to history talks! Informal evenings of miniature lectures and surprising interludes from an eclectic selection of East End London authors, historians, and performers.
Upstairs in the hidden hall of the 17th-century Market Coffee House, 50-52 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1 6AG.
The First Instalment: 30/08/2023, 6.30pm
‘Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World’
Experience the thrill of Yiddish Jazz from the 1930s to 1950s Whitechapel with BBC broadcaster and oral historian, Alan Dein! Join us for an electrifying night of untold stories and forgotten sounds that defined an era.
‘Artists, Anarchists & Peanuts’
Join us for an exhilarating journey into the hidden history of a captivating shop in Spitalfields, masterfully researched and revealed by the brilliant Deborah Scott-Lovric.
Plus compere Alan Gilbey with ‘This Month in Local History‘, a quick quiz, and some surprises!
The Second Instalment: 27/09/2023, 6.30pm
‘Night in the Archives’
Witness a thrilling revelation as Stefan Dickers, the acclaimed curator of the Bishopsgate Institute, opens some of his dustiest storage boxes and unearths astonishing discoveries…
Plus, join us for an enchanting evening as artist/performer Kate Sullivan delves into her captivating family tree, unravelling hidden tales of the past.
Paired with the extraordinary Alan Gilbey, who will mesmerize you with classic works of London exploration and thought-provoking questions, this event promises to ignite your curiosity and leave you asking, “Who truly knows the East End?”
Little Estuaries by Daniel Kramb
Join us in the bookshop for the launch of Daniel Kramb’s new book of poetry — Little Estuaries, published by the brand new UK imprint of Amsterdam’s HetMoet, HetMoet-Menard, and featuring cover art by Louisa Albani.
In Little Estuaries, Daniel Kramb goes in search of what’s fleeting between the shores. Amid a constantly shifting sense of what can be seen, sensed or experienced, the poet probes the estuary as sphere: an opening up, a possibility.
Whittled down, like sea to stream, his poems emerge, in their own distinct form, estuary-shaped on the page. Intricate, at times playful, always open, these unassuming, small pieces reach beyond the confines, always returning to what’s undeniable, as the body.
Silt-smeared and salty, this is poetry not on landscape, but through it: formed not by what exists, but from what’s washed up within.
“Gloriously spare and strange and compendious and tender, like a hymn.” — Sara Baume, author of seven steeples
“What emerges, through and around these gentle and effective poems is a different sense of the estuary, a place of quiet and shifting landscapes, from the experience of walking out, then letting go.” — Rachel Lichtenstein, author of Estuary
Daniel Kramb (danielkramb.com) is a writer and poet. He is a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and his prose history of the collective is out in Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different (2021). Other work has appeared in The London Magazine, Prototype, Popshot and elsewhere. His fiction includes Central (2015) and From Here (2012). Look at Us is a stage collaboration with JJ Bola. Several Little Estuaries make up a poetry intervention at Thameside Nature Reserve commissioned for SEEPARK (South Essex Estuary Park) by URBAN landscape architects and arts organisation Metal Southend.
Louisa Amelia Albani (nightbirdpress.com) is an artist, educator and small press publisher. Night bird press pamphlets are stocked at London Review Bookshop, Poetry Pharmacy (Shropshire Hills), Seven Fables (Exmoor), Charleston bookshop (Lewes), Treadwells Bookshop, Tate Britain Bookshop, Much Ado Bookshop (Alfriston, East Sussex), Kim’s Bookshops (Arundel & Chichester), Boekhandel Livius de Zevensprong, Tilburg, The Netherlands.
HetMoet-Menard Press is the London based imprint of HetMoet Publishing, an indie press based on a historic sailing barge in the centre of Amsterdam, the Netherlands and was founded by Elte Rauch (she/her) in 2018. The Menard Press was founded by Anthony Rudolf in 1969. In 2022 the two presses merged to what is now HetMoet-Menard.
Queer Footprints – A Guide to Uncovering London’s Fierce History by Dan Glass
Join us in the bookshop for the launch of Queer Footprints with author and activist Dan Glass.
This groundbreaking guide will take you through the city streets to uncover the scandalous, hilarious and empowering events of London’s queer history. Accompanied by a chorus of voices both iconic and unsung, readers can walk through parts of East, West, South and North London, dipping into beautifully illustrated maps and extraordinary tales of LGBTQIA+ solidarity, protest and pride.
From the Brixton Fairies to Notting Hill Carnival to world-changing protests in Trafalgar Square, Rebel Dykes to drag queen communes, Queer Footprints celebrates the hidden histories of struggle and joy. Including an accessibility guide and a list of these gems for your pleasure: queer spaces, clubs, networks and resources galore.
‘Glass has used his vast experience as a campaigner to create something dizzyingly energetic. His writing isn’t just informative; it compels you to act’ – Darren McGarvey, Orwell Prize-winning author of Poverty Safari
‘Dan is a charming raconteur, grass-roots historian, people lover and pleasure seeker who delights in guiding us from pick-ups to pinkwashing through the queer London that he loves. He lets both the neophyte and the experienced city-dweller discover the magic anew’ – Sarah Schulman
Dan Glass is a healthcare and human rights activist, performer, presenter, writer and author of United Queerdom. Dan has been recognised as ‘Activist of the Year’ by the Sexual Freedom Awards and was announced a ‘BBC Greater Londoner’ for founding Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time. Dan recently founded self-defence empowerment programme Bender Defenders and Queer Night Pride to confront rising hate crime.
From Sylhet to Spitalfields: Bengali Squatters in 1970s East London by Shabna Begum
Join us at the bookshop, where author Shabna Begum will be in conversation with Denise Jones and Jumanah Younis
‘Bengali squatters challenged the narrative about who belonged in the East End and, through their refusal to be dispersed and dispossessed, refused to accept whiteness as a proxy for belonging.’
Faced with institutional discrimination in council housing and the existential threat of the National Front, hundreds of Bengali families in 1970s East London decided to squat, taking over entire streets and estates. With the support of the Race Today collective, squatters formed the Bengali Housing Action Group (BHAG), which organised support and vigilante groups to keep the community safe.
Using oral history interviews and archival research, From Sylhet to Spitalfields looks at the Bengali community’s contribution to this little-known episode of East End history, and how it can inform present-day housing struggles.
‘A powerful contribution to working-class and multicultural histories of Britain.‘
– Gurminder K. Bhambra, Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies (Global Studies), University of Sussex
Shabna Begum is Head of Research at the Runnymede Trust, the UK’s leading race equality think tank.
Jumanah Younis is books editor at Lawrence Wishart and a trainee therapist.
The Long Form – Kate Briggs
Join us at the shop for the launch of Kate Briggs’ debut novel
It’s early morning and there’s a whole new day ahead. How will it unfold? The baby will feed, hopefully she’ll sleep; Helen looks out of the window. The Long Form is the story of two people composing a day together.
It is a day of movements and improvisations, common and uncommon rhythms, stopping and starting again. As the morning progresses, a book – The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding – gets delivered, and the scope of the day widens further. Matters of care-work share ground with matters of friendship, housing, translation, aesthetics and creativity.
Small incidents of the day revive some of the oldest preoccupations of the novel: the force of social circumstance, the power of names, the meaning of duration and the work of love. With lightness and precision, Kate Briggs renews Henry Fielding’s proposition for what a novel can be, combining fiction and essay to write an extraordinary domestic novel of far-reaching ideas.
Kate Briggs grew up in Somerset, UK, and lives and works in Rotterdam, NL, where she founded and co-runs the writing and publishing project ‘Short Pieces That Move’. She is the translator of two volumes of Roland Barthes’s lecture and seminar notes at the Collège de France: The Preparation of the Novel and How to Live Together, both published by Columbia University Press. The Long Form follows This Little Art, a narrative essay on the practice of translation. In 2021, Kate Briggs was awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize.
Join us from 7pm for a short reading from the novel, followed by an informal chat.
We All Go into the Dark by Francisco Garcia
Join us at the bookshop where author Francisco Garcia will be discussing his new book with Eliza Clark
Both a riveting account of a series of killings in late 1960s Glasgow and a philosophical meditation about the nature of urban mythmaking and the modern obsession with historic true crime, We All Go Into the Dark focuses on the elusive figure of scripture-quoting murderer Bible John.
Three women were brutally murdered between early 1968 and late 1969, each after a night dancing at Glasgow’s infamous Barrowland Ballroom. Their murders were linked and ascribed to the spectre of the well-dressed, scripture-quoting killer who had apparently stalked the city’s dancehalls.
The figure was never caught or identified. But the intervening years spawned a legend that never quite lost its grip on the popular imagination of Glasgow. The killings provoked the country’s largest ever manhunt, as well as countless suspects, books, documentaries, earnest speculation, pub theorising and bouts of urban mythmaking.
Garcia delves into how Bible John has morphed across generations, interrogates our collective obsession with ‘solving’ historic crimes and questions why some killings are forgotten with indecent haste and why others are never permitted to be forgotten at all. A captivating, eloquent and deeply original book, We All Go into the Dark is an absolute must-read for true-crime fans across the board.
Francisco Garcia is a writer and journalist with the Guardian, Financial Times, VICE, New Statesman, Rolling Stone and many others. His first book, If You Were: Missing People and the Marks They Leave Behind, was published by HarperCollins in May 2021.
The conversation will be chaired by Eliza Clark, recently chosen by Granta in their fifth generation picks of Best Young British novelists. Her first novel Boy Parts was published by Influx Press in 2020; a second novel, Penance, is forthcoming from Faber in July 2023.
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