The first title in our Disappearing Britain series, which records the lives of those in areas which have changed massively.
This oral history of London's East End spans the period after the First World War to the upsurge of prosperity at the beginning of the 60s - a time which saw fresh waves of immigrants in the area, the Fascist marches of the 30s and its spirited recovery after virtual obliteration during the Blitz. Piers Dudgeon has listened to dozens of people who remember this fiercely proud quarter to record their real-life experiences of what it was like before it was fashionable to buy a home in the Docklands. They talk of childhood and education, of work and entertainment, of family, community values, health, politics, religion and music. Their stories will make you laugh and cry. It is people's own memories that make history real and this engrossing book captures them vividly.
Piers Dudgeon is the author of more than thirty works of non-fiction. He worked for ten years as an editor in London before starting his own company, Pilot Productions, publishing books with authors as diverse as John Fowles, Catherine Cookson, Peter Ackroyd, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Conran and Ted Hughes. At the same time he wrote a number of books evocative of the spirit of place, including Dickens' London, Catherine Cookson Country, The English Vicarage Garden, The Spirit of Britain: A Guide to Literary Britain, along with Village Voices and The Country Child. Subsequently he left London for Yorkshire, where he wrote a series of oral industrial histories of Glasgow, Liverpool and London's East End, the annual Virgin Alternative Guide to British Universities, which still involves him in speaking to sixth forms across the country, and biographies of Catherine Cookson, the du Maurier family, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Maeve Binchy, the composer Sir John Tavener, the thinker Edward de Bono, and the novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. Today he is publishing a growing list of novelists, including Angus Stewart, Giovanni Guareschi, and shortly Alessandra Lavagnino. In 2015 his biography, The Real Peter Pan: The Tragic Life of Michael Llewelyn Davies was published in the UK by The Robson Press; in 2016 in America by Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin's Press.