Tag Archives: research

Reading at the London Book Fair.

The London Book Fair attracts over 25,000 visitors. Who wouldn’t want to read at one of the publishing industry’s main trade fairs? When our publisher Bernadette at Holland Park Press suggested she could pitch for a slot for us to read from our forthcoming collection at this year’s fair we jumped at the chance.  Continue reading Reading at the London Book Fair.

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Ready… Set… GO!

Today is the official start date of our Arts Council funded research and development project. And armed with our History Cards from the London Metropolitan Archives we’re raring to go!

The LMA is a wonderful resource for books, pictures, original documents and other material about London. We’ve visited a couple of times to check out the facilities and familiarise ourselves with searching the collections – that may take a little time still! It’s a friendly and welcoming place and the staff are enthusiastic and keen to help. It’s both exciting and a bit overwhelming to realise how much material the Archive holds – what you see on the open shelves in the Information Area is the tip of a very large iceberg – so we know we need to focus in on very specific areas of interest when we visit.

Another great thing about the LMA is that it’s on the 19 bus route, which runs between Battersea and Islington, so it’s only a bus ride away for both of us!

LU History Cards

Des res, N1

Poor people. The poor.

Even in today’s hard times, Joolz reflects, these words still don’t have the same meaning in modern, gentrified Islington as they did back in the days of The Workhouse.

I’ve been researching what it must have been like for women residing in north London Workhouses in the 18th century for a new London Undercurrents poem, and found this fantastic reference point: http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Islington/

It has uncovered some distressing but interesting facts, and given me some shocks too. The biggest shock came from seeing a picture of a Workhouse in Islington that was built in the late 1700’s. I did a double take – it was the beautiful redbrick house in leafy Barnsbury that I’ve gazed at often and coveted for many years. It blew my mind.

According to a report made in 1865, the building had an infirmary with a “thoroughly bad edifice with wards ill built, too small, too low, badly lighted and badly ventilated…”

Thankfully, the report goes on to say that the wards “…have yet an aspect of cheerfulness and comfort. The walls were coloured cheerfully; there were prints hanging on the walls, and a few ornaments about the fire-places. In every window were a few flower-pots or flower-boxes.”

It does however throw the grim reality of life in Workhouses that weren’t so cheery, into stark relief. Poor people.