More live literature

One of photographer Peter Clark’s many superb photos of live literature gigs in Soho and Fitzrovia.

Peter Clark is an unparalleled chronicler of a still-Bohemian Soho (and you can quote me on that)!

This was upstairs at the French House in 2018. I was reading as part of In Yer Ear, a great series of spoken word nights that were run by Julia Bell and Dave McGowan. I miss those nights!


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Live literature

I’ve been thinking about a grassroots live readings and spoken word scene which maybe hasn’t bounced back yet for prose fiction in the way it has for poetry. Or is that just me?

I know lots of authors hate doing gigs and readings, but it’s a big part of my work as a writer. In fact that was probably my way in to becoming a writer and getting published in the first place, so may yet be for others…

Anyway, I hope to see you out there sometime soon ;)

Find out more about my events and bookings here…

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


Buy Tony White’s latest novel The Fountain in the Forest via publisher Faber and Faber

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Protest and Survive #1

I just wanted to help spread word of this important campaign in the US, including an open letter (link below) and an email text. All of which I picked up via PEN America on Twitter. Thank you.

Copy and paste this email to friends to spread the word:

Subject: Take Action: Tell Missouri School Districts to Reverse Overzealous Book Bans



I took an action on Action Network called Tell Missouri School Districts to Reverse Overzealous Book Bans:

To Missouri School Boards and State Legislators,

We, the undersigned, join authors, illustrators and the literary and free expression organization PEN America, to protest the alarming book bans that have been enacted in Missouri schools this fall. These bans represent a grave threat to the freedom to read, much to the detriment of students across the state.

These bans have been enacted largely in reaction to a provision in Senate Bill 775, which makes the distribution of material deemed “harmful to minors” to students in Missouri by any school official (educators, librarians, student teachers, coaches) or by any visitor to a school, a misdemeanor punishable by fines or jail time.

What is the definition of “harmful”? Who decides? The new law focuses on “visual depictions” and “sexual material,” and some school boards and officials have interpreted it broadly, removing an astonishing range of material: dozens of graphic novels and comics, books with photography, memoirs, and books about art history. In the ten weeks since the provision went into effect, at least 11 school districts have banned over 300 books. Several districts banned books from their libraries permanently. In one district, over 200 books came off library shelves for an indeterminate period of “review.”

Provisions in the law that exempt materials of artistic or anthropological significance are clearly being ignored. Students have been barred from checking out works on Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, graphic novel adaptations of classics by Shakespeare and Mark Twain as well as The Gettysburg Address, the Pulitzer-prize winning Maus, and other books about the Holocaust. Districts have banned comics about Batman, X-Men, and Watchmen; The Complete Guide to Drawing & Painting by Reader’s Digest; Women (a book of photographs by Annie Leibovitz); and The Children’s Bible.

Such overzealous book banning is going to do more harm than good. Book bans limit opportunities for students to see themselves in literature and to build empathy for experiences different from their own. They deprive students of the freedom to read–to think, to imagine, to grow. And photographs and illustrations can be vital to storytelling: a window into the past, a means of reflecting the human condition, a tool for helping reluctant readers engage with literature.

Students in Missouri are having these educational opportunities denied. They are bearing the brunt of a hasty and poorly considered reaction to a broadly worded provision that has spurred censorious acts across the state. They are having their right to access a diversity of ideas, information, art, and literature in school libraries diminished.

We urge school district officials in these 11 districts to reverse these dangerous bans, and to put materials back on shelves where students can regain access to them.

Can you join me and take action? Click here:


Best British Short Stories 2022

I’m thrilled that my short story ‘Plain Speaking’ is published in Nicholas Royle’s new anthology Best British Short Stories 2022, published by Salt Publishing and released on 15 November. It is the first time the story has been available in print form.

‘Plain Speaking’ was initially written for David Collard’s Carthorse Orchestra online salon around a year ago, to commemorate the 110th anniversary on 5 October 2021 of the birth of Brian O’Nolan, a.k.a. Myles na gCopaleen, but best known as Flann O’Brien. The story was first published online by 3am Magazine, and then by the Irish Literary Society.

Nicholas Royle’s Best British Short Stories series was inspired by Giles Gordon and David Hughes’ Best Short Stories series, which ran for ten years from 1986 to 1995. This is now the twelfth Best British Short Stories anthology, and Best British Short Stories 2023 has just been announced.

Royle himself is an acclaimed novelist and short story writer, author of more than one-hundred short stories, and editor of numerous anthologies. He is also the editor and publisher of Nightjar Press. Royle is the former short story critic for Time Out magazine, and a tireless, longstanding champion of the form.

Contributors to Best British Short Stories 2022 are: RZ Baschir, Sean Padraic Birnie, Christopher Burns, Neil Campbell, Leon Craig, Mona Dash, David Frankel, Uschi Gatward, Rosanna Hildyard, Edward Hogan, Alice M, Paul McQuade, Sophie Mackintosh, Sonya Moor, Ben Pester, Max Porter, Sara Sherwood, Chris Vaughan, Tony White, and Will Wiles.

There’s a Manchester event at Blackwells Manchester on Tuesday 13 December to launch Best British Short Stories 2022 and their new Modern Stories series. The evening will be hosted by Nicholas Royle and feature readings from Neil Campbell, Alison Moore, Nicholas Royle and Sara Sherwood.

My contributor copy arrived a couple of days ago. I’ve really enjoyed the stories I’ve read so far, and am really proud to have ‘Plain Speaking’ published in such great company.

Do please support the excellent Salt Publishing, Nicholas Royle’s great ongoing project, all of the contributors, and the short story in general by buying a copy from your favourite local bookshop — thanks all!


Buy Best British Short Stories 2022 direct from Salt Publishing

Buy Tony White’s latest novel The Fountain in the Forest via publisher Faber and Faber

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OTD in 1999 my novel CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO was launched with a performance at Cabinet, in London (in the gallery’s former Northburgh Street premises). We had blue lights, and live musical accompaniment for my reading came from keyboard maestro, musician and composer Jamie Telford, whose credits include playing the Hammond Organ for The Jam. Here’s an archived copy of the invite ICYM.

And here’s the cover copy:

Charlieunclenorfolktango is the call sign of a bunch of English cops in a riot van. This astoundingly original novel opens with fifty ways some mad killer could do you if there weren’t coppers in this world. Problem is, one of these cops is not entirely human. The Sarge thinks it’s him, and Lockie — the narrator — thinks he’s right. Well it can’t be that dozy tosspot Blakie, can it? In between witnessing and committing various atrocities and acts of work-a-day corruption, and being experimented on by aliens, Lockie thinks aloud about cave blokes and cave birds, Charlie’s Angels, and “the kynd a fings that blokes & birds do ter keep the dark dark nyte at bay.”

CHARLIEUNCLE… (for short) was published by the former Hove-based indie Codex Books. What a great list that was to be part of: Jeff Noon, Steve Aylett, Jane Graham, Cheap Date, Stewart Home, Billy Childish, Kathy Acker live (on CD, IIRC), and many more…

CHARLIEUNCLE… polarised critics, but had a particularly good response among critics writing for the books sections of the then various city listings magazines around the country at the time (see selected press), and with readers.

The novel has been out of print since Codex sadly folded in the early 00s, but copies can sometimes be found on Abebooks if you’re quick ;)

I reintroduced the signature reading of CHARLIEUNCLE… back into my live sets around ten years ago, at the request of the late and sadly missed Malcolm Bennett – thank you Mally x

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


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The Sweeney

“London’s a slick place, London’s a swell place, London’s a fine place to come on a visit—”

That’s my favourite line from TS Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes, and I got to speak it in this prerecorded reading for Sunday night’s Glue Factory, the online salon hosted by critic David Collard.

There’s a great version of Sweeney Agonistes on Youtube, produced and recorded in 1965 as part of an Homage to T.S. Eliot: a programme of poetry drama and music. Devised and produced by Vera Lindsay. Presented by the Stage Sixty Theatre Club for the London Library at the Globe Theatre, London, Sunday 13 June 1965. That version featured Cleo Laine, Anna Quayle, Roddy Maude-Roxby, Bernard Cribbins, Clive Revell, Alec McCowen, Nicol Williamson, John Le Mesurier.

Our version featured David Collard, and (clockwise from top left), Paige Niblet, Alex Kapila, David Henningham, Ray Davies, David Henningham again, and me ;)

Here’s the 1965 version – I’m afraid that it doesn’t include visuals, so you’ll just have to imagine Bridget Riley’s projections.


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Road Rage 25th anniversary

Twenty-five years ago today my first novel Road Rage! was published by Scottish small press Low Life Books, with a launch at the Tactical bar and bookshop on D’Arblay Street in Soho! As far as I know, no photos exist of that event. Read more about Road Rage! here, and there are some review clippings in the ‘Press’ section of my site. Low Life was run by the legendary George Marshall, who’d been reissuing the Richard Allen novels in three-volume omnibus editions and was looking to publish contemporary examples of what he termed ‘street fiction.’ I’m eternally grateful to George for his faith in my writing (which was why, he said at the time, he’d put “Tony White’s Road Rage” on the cover) and for giving me my first break.

Here’s what Steve Beard wrote in i-D Magazine:

Who would have guessed that Richard Allen’s range of ’70s bootboy novels would have proved so influential? First Stewart Home samples the speed and aggression in order to turn round the political message and make the link with Burroughs and Blake; then Victor Headley steals a few riffs to draw up a map of the Black Atlantic in London. […] what subculture could be appropriated next? Tony White’s Road Rage makes it clear. Mixing psycho-social realism and techno-pagan fantasy, Tony White stakes out a position between Stewart Home and Martin Millar to offer a vision of London which is romantic, revolutionary, and conservative all at the same time. This is a signpost to the fantastic worlds of a Michael Moorcock or an Alan Garner, and it’ll be interesting to see what White does next.

(Steve later became a good friend and neighbour in Whitechapel, London.)

The cover of the Low Life Books’ paperback of Road Rage! features my by then former Beck Road neighbour Dave McCairley’s photograph of a fire artist. The picture had been taken in 1996, during a demonstration outside Hackney Town Hall against evictions from ‘The Spikey Thing With Curves’, which was the name of a large squat in a former Salvation Army building and Methodist Hall opposite the Hackney Empire on Mare Street. Such a great photo – we were so lucky to have it.

Thank you Dave, George, Steve and all!


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Good Pizza

PIECE OF PAPER PRESS becomes ‘Pizza Paper Press’ for a day to celebrate publication of ‘Good Pizza’, by the acclaimed short story writer David Hayden. It’s a story about being young and about being old, about being out late in early snow. It’s also about pizza. But is it good pizza?

Piece of Paper Press was founded in 1994. The fortieth title in the series, ‘Good Pizza’ by David Hayden, is published 6 July in a numbered limited-edition of 250. Hayden’s story was premiered in a live performance by actress Stephanie Ellyne at David Collard’s online salon The Glue Factory 26 July 2022.

Other authors who’ve contributed to Piece of Paper Press include Tim Etchells, M John Harrison, Susana Medina, Michael Moorcock, Courttia Newland, and Joanna Walsh.

All pre-2000 titles from Piece of Paper Press are included in Artists’ Books: The Book as a Work of Art, 1963–2000, by Stephen Bury, Quaritch, 2016. (Revised edition.)

An exhibition of ‘Piece of Paper Press: artworks and ephemera 1994–2017’ was at Site Gallery, Sheffield, as part of Strong Language curated by Tim Etchells for Off The Shelf Festival of Words, 2018.

Read the press release here…


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