A vivid and compelling memoir recounting the real lives, loves and friendship of 1940s Soho and its working girls.
Barbara Tate was 17 when she heard the whispered word that would change her life: Soho. It would take four years for Barbara to escape her loveless home but when she finally made it to the forbidden streets of Soho - just as London was recovering from the trauma of the second world war - things would never be the same again.
There the naive Barbara meets the beautiful and capricious Mae. When she takes a job as Mae's maid, Barbara imagines she'll be housekeeping. But down a shabby backstreet, Barbara discovers the secret lives of Soho's working girls.
An astonishing world full of fierce friendships and bitter rivalries, dangerous men and desperate measures, Barbara soon learns that taking the money from a staggering supply of punters and making copious amounts of tea are only the bare essentials. She will need to be nursemaid, protector and confidante to impossible, adorable, self-destructive Mae.
Readers of a shockable disposition should avoid this book - everyone else should rush out and buy a first edition. It is a jaw-dropping account of Soho prostitutes in the late 1940s - a world Barbara (Babs Tate) knew as she worked for one as her maid...She always said she wanted to paint one perfect picture before she died: she has certainly written one perfect book - SUNDAY TIMES
As full of life, laughter and tragedy as the streets of Soho itself - a wonderful book - Pip Granger
Fascinating, heart-warming and a little bit shocking. I couldn't put this down - Katie Fforde
'A truly fascinating, entertaining and heart-warming glimpse into some of Soho's most eccentric and outrageous characters' - SUNDAY EXPRESS
'Her book acknowledges with humility and grace, as well as wit, how close she came to living the tough, funny and colourful but ultimately tragic life she describes' - DAILY MAIL
'Not only is this memoir told with candour and compassion but it also affords a fascinating glimpse into a lurid byway of London's social history...Tate's memoir fizzes with anecdotes and the quality of her writing is superb' - DAILY EXPRESS
Barbara Tate was born in Southall in 1927. After she left her Soho life, Barbara went on to marry, raise a family and become a successful painter.
A fellow of the Royal Society of Artists and the Society of Botanical Artists, Barbara was a long-time president of the Society of Women Artists and lifetime honorary president. Accolades for her paintings include gold and silver medals from the Paris Salon, the Grand Prix de la Cote d'Azur and an honorary professorship from Thames University. Barbara died in 2009.