Abacus is reissuing all of Patrick Hamilton's novels, to bring them to a new audience. Twopence Coloured, Hamilton's second novel, relishes in London - the 'vast, thronged, unknown, hooting, electric-lit, dark-rumbling metropolis'.
West Kensington - grey area of rot, and caretaking, and cat-slinking basements. West Kensington - drab asylum for the driven and cast-off genteel!' Patrick Hamilton was acutely conscious that his third novel (first published in 1928) was longer and 'much grimmer' than his previous and well-received productions. Twopence Coloured is the story of nineteen-year-old Jackie Mortimer, who leaves Hove in search of a life on the London stage, only to become entangled in 'provincial theatre' and complex affairs of the heart with two brothers, Richard and Charles Gissing. The novel, unavailable for many years, is a gimlet-eyed portrait of the theatrical vocation, and fully exhibits Hamilton's celebrated gift for conjuring London - the 'vast, thronged, unknown, hooting, electric-lit, dark-rumbling metropolis.
Hamilton's third novel takes its name from a toy theatre and constructs a between-the-wars stage set of dreary provincial fleapit and transient West End glitter from personal experience of a profession that would dazzle, exhault and thwart him. The story of awkward ingenue Jackie begins, as did Hamilton, in Hove, from where she persues her dream to West Kensington, future backdrop of the author's greatest dramas. Jackie's fate is set as she steps on the train and meets Richard, a seasoned actor who will become her mentor and then lover - but not until she has "travelled not less than 20,000 miles" in rep, across the "infinite piquancies and horrors" of "Sunday England" - Guardian