Finding the Fountain

A perfect, bright London afternoon in February saw me leading what I was calling ‘a one-off repeat performance’ of The Fountain in the Forest guided walk, in aid of the Resonance FM fundraiser 2019. The walk took in locations from the novel, from Queen Square and the former offices of Faber and Faber, to Lamb’s Conduit Street and the historic Holborn Library, via the Great Ormond Street site of Wyndham Lewis’s Rebel Art Centre of 1914. The walk was interspersed with readings from the novel, anecdotes, and local history.

We also tried to divine the exact location of Sir William Lamb’s conduit, after which – of course – Lamb’s Conduit Street is named. Lamb dammed the Fleet River and built a cistern from which open wooden pipes carried fresh water to Snow Hill in the City of London. Additionally, at or near the cistern itself was a pump or fountain from which local households could draw water. Lamb supplied 120 buckets to local women for this purpose.

A map of 1752 shows the exact location of this fountain, a few feet north of the stable yard passage, between two buildings that once fronted onto Lamb’s Conduit Street itself. Those particular buildings are long gone, but the passage remains. I was stunned to discover that this is now the site of the popular and bustling Italian restaurant Ciao Bella!, so it is still a celebrated watering hole and gathering place, and the site of many a Faber dinner. Astonishing!

Since Friday, a number of people have got in touch to ask if or when I’ll be doing the walk again. And I would love to do so if possible, so watch this space. As ever, if you’d like to be notified of any future walks or other gigs, do please sign up to receive invites to my launches and events.

Thank you to Bronac Ferran for sending through these great photos.

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The Fountain in the Forest guided walk for Resonance FM – 15 Feb 2019

Bookings must close Sunday 10 Feb, 9:00pm

Last summer, The Culture Capital Exchange commissioned me to devise a guided walk of Holborn locations featured in my novel The Fountain in the Forest. The walk – for about a dozen participants – was part of the programme for ‘Refresh, Reboot, Retool: new imaginaries for challenging times’, TCCE’s summer symposium 2018 at the historic Art Workers’ Guild on Queen Square.

Now I’m going to be doing the guided walk again on 15 February from 3–5pm, with all proceeds going to trail-blazing London arts radio station Resonance FM’s annual fundraiser 2019.

“rich, riveting … White is always convivial company … His books [are] characterised by stylistic innovation, a feeling for place, a love of rogues and rebels.”

Join me, starting at the memorial to the Zeppelin attack of 1915 in Queen Square (and probably ending in a local pub). The walk takes in many of the landmarks of ‘Rex King Country’, including the site of Wyndham Lewis’s Rebel Art Centre of 1914 on Great Ormond Street, Sid’s (a.k.a. Conduit Coffee House) on Lamb’s Conduit Street, Holborn Police Station, and the celebrated fish and chip shop Fryer’s Delight, interspersed with anecdote, local history, and readings from The Fountain in the Forest.

Resonance is a trail-blazing, not-for-profit radio station dedicated to creativity, arts and culture. Launched in 2002, our award-winning programming gives voice to the vibrant diversity of London’s thriving arts and music scenes. Resonance’s pool of creatives speak directly and expressively to an engaged and passionate audience, locally, nationally and internationally. Our 24/7 broadcast service combines Resonance FM’s signal in the City with DAB digital radio coverage across Greater London. And our experimental platform, Resonance EXTRA, features on DAB in Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cambridge, London and Norwich. Live streaming of both stations adds to the impact of our cultural broadcasts and radio artworks. Resonance celebrates its seventeenth anniversary in 2019. We now want to consolidate, refine and grow our work. This year we need urgently to relocate our studios and broadcasting gear (the site is being redeveloped) – at considerable cost.

For max twelve participants: minimum donation £10.00 per participant – donation of £20.00 or more includes signed and dedicated copy of the novel. Please use eBay’s ‘Make An Offer’ function. Bookings must close Sunday 10 Feb, 9:00pm

There are many other wonderful items and experiences to bid for in the Resonance fundraiser 2019, from an original painting by Bob and Roberta Smith to steel band lessons, an Art Monthly subscription, or a home cooked meal by Talking Africa host Sonny Decker — do please take a look at the auction listings here.

You can even bid for a jar of my special, home made Burns Night whisky marmalade ;)

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Tony White reading at Beaconsfield, London. Photo © Marianne Magnin, 2015

Speech Acts for Resonance

screen shot 2019-01-21 at 16.38.29‘An epochal evening of poetry, spoken word and readings for the Resonance fundraiser 2019’ (it says here) – featuring Rachael Allen + Edward Doegar + Rakaya Esime Fetuga + Liliane Lijn + Tony White + …READ MORE

  • Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 7:30 PM 11:00 PM
  • Iklectik, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Lambeth North, London SE1 7LG
  • Tickets: £10 (£6 students, concessions) on the door
  • All proceeds go to the Resonance Fundraiser 2019

BTW, regular readers will know that I have been involved with Resonance in one way or another for a long time, initially (in the project’s earliest days) when I worked at Arts Council England, and most recently, chairing the board from 2010–18. If you don’t yet know about what New York’s The Village Voice called ‘the best radio station in the world’, here’s a catch-up:

Resonance is a trail-blazing, not-for-profit radio station dedicated to creativity, arts and culture. Launched in 2002, our award-winning programming gives voice to the vibrant diversity of London’s thriving arts and music scenes. Resonance’s pool of creatives speak directly and expressively to an engaged and passionate audience, locally, nationally and internationally.

Our 24/7 broadcast service combines Resonance FM’s signal in the City with DAB digital radio coverage across Greater London. And our experimental platform, Resonance EXTRA, features on DAB in Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cambridge, London and Norwich. Live streaming of both stations adds to the impact of our cultural broadcasts and radio artworks.

Resonance celebrates its seventeenth anniversary in 2019. We now want to consolidate, refine and grow our work. This year we need urgently to relocate our studios and broadcasting gear (the site is being redeveloped) – at considerable cost.

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Brunel Writers Series – 23 Jan 2019

I am really looking forward to talking about The Fountain in the Forest with Dr Nick Hubble of Brunel University, as part of this year’s Brunel Writers Series.

Nick Hubble is the author of a brilliant new book, The Proletarian Answer to the Modernist Question, so will bring a unique perspective to the discussion.

Other events in the series include Lara Pawson and Hannah Lowe, Catherine Johnson, Daljit Nagra, and more. Here’s the blurb:

The Creative Writing faculty at Brunel presents an amazing line-up for the Writers Series 2019. Hosted by Bernardine Evaristo, Professor of Creative Writing, all events will have Brunel students opening the evening with readings from their work and brilliant headline authors – all free and welcome to all. We hope to see you there!

Brunel Library (room: BANN 226), Brunel University London, UB8 3PH

Weds 23 Jan 2019, 17:30–19:30. Register here.

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Buy the new ‘B-format’ paperback edition of The Fountain in the Forest

Read reviews of The Fountain in the Forest

Read the opening chapter of The Fountain in the Forest on the Faber website

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Double trouble with photographer Chris Dorley-Brown

Photo © Chris Dorley-Brown, 2018

It’s paperback publication day for The Fountain in the Forest. I recently visited the paint frame that provides the setting for the opening chapter of the novel with photographer Chris Dorley Brown, whose stunning new book The Corners just won the prize for best photographic book in the prestigious BBD&PA, the British Book Design & Production Awards.

Photo © Chris Dorley-Brown, 2018

Thanks first of all to the great Alastair BrotchieAtlas Press founder, Jarry biographer, Oulipo scholar, avant-gardist and painter extraordinaire – for in the first place inviting me in to see his studio, the historic paint frame of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The place stuck in my mind, and provided the inspiration for the novel’s opening scenes, which are set in the fictional ‘Royal Palace Theatre’. Alastair then graciously allowed Chris and I to visit in the run-up to publication. But on one condition: that we didn’t get in the way. He had a job on.

Chris Dorley-Brown and I have worked together before a few times (he took my ‘London Author’ photo for one thing, and I contributed to his project BBC in the East End 1958–1973), but I was reminded of these pictures when an audience member came to chat after my recent Stroud Book Festival event and told me that her mother had worked in this very paint frame at the Theatre Royal in the 1960s.

Photo © Chris Dorley-Brown, 2018

In fact, there are now very few of these historic spaces left in London. Earlier this year Eleanor Margolies wrote a lovely and informative post about The Fountain in the Forest for her theatre design blog From the Jocelyn Herbert Archive. Eleanor’s piece links out to some further resources, including more detailed discussion of another paint frame, Harkers Studio in South London, and the campaign to save it from redevelopment.

The Fountain in the Forest is published in a new B-format paperback edition (with new, neon-blue livery) on 3 January 2018.

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Buy the new ‘B-format’ paperback edition of The Fountain in the Forest

Read reviews of The Fountain in the Forest

Read the opening chapter of The Fountain in the Forest on the Faber website

Sign up to receive news and invites to Tony White’s book launches and events

Buy The Corners by Chris Dorley-Brown direct from Hoxton Mini Press

 

Heart-shaped full moon

I thought this was an apt image with which to end 2018: a heart-shaped full moon over Richmond Park (shot from a moving car at 16:06 on 22 December 2018).

Season’s greetings and sincere thanks to all for friendship, collaborations and support through an incredible year.