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234 × 156 × 48 mm
560 pages
6 illustrations
14 Sep 2020

All the Tiny Moments Blazing A Literary Guide to Suburban London Ged Pope

The London suburbs have, for more than 250 years, fired the creative literary imagination: whether this is Samuel Johnson hiding away in bucolic pre-industrial Streatham, Italo Svevo cheering on Charlton Athletic FC down at The Valley, or Angela Carter hymning the joyful ‘wrongness’ of living south-of-the-river in Brixton. From Richmond to Rainham, Cockfosters to Croydon, this sweeping literary tour of the 32 London Boroughs describes how writers, from the seventeenth century on, have responded to and fictionally reimagined London’s suburbs. It introduces us to the great suburban novels, such as Hanif Kureishi’s Bromley-set The Buddha of Suburbia, Lawrence Durrell’s Black Book and Zadie Smith’s NW. It also reveals the lesser-known short stories, diaries, poems, local guides, travelogues, memoirs and biographies, which together show how these communities have long been closely observed, keenly remembered and brilliantly imagined.

‘Urban magnetism is now under threat but Pope’s charming circuit of London’s suburbs and the figures who frequented them in All The Tiny Moments Blazing is a reminder that cities have coped with worse. Even urban smog has its benefits: 'Monet worked in the park whilst I, living at Lower Norwood, at that time a charming suburb, studied the effects of fog, snow and springtime,' Camille Pissarro wrote of 1870.’ — Financial Times

‘What Pope does brilliantly is map an alternative and largely neglected corpus of London-based texts, one that is very different from the typical fare of ‘literary London’. Although some of the usual suspects recur time and again — Dickens, H. G. Wells, Iain Sinclair — the guide is replete with new and forgotten voices . . . As a genre, guides are designed to prepare us for travel, to provide us with ways of interpreting our experiences, and — perhaps most importantly — to encourage us to step into otherwise unknown territory. Pope does all of this, and equips us for our own exciting suburban adventures.’ — The London Journal

‘At last! Ged Pope has produced an indispensable guide for those of us who love the London suburbs, love books, and, above all, love books set in the suburbs. It’s all here, across the boroughs and through the centuries; comedy, crime, romance, pastoral escape and urban traps, exile, boredom and fear, fun, parenting and . . . Martian invaders.’ — Sandi Toksvig, writer, broadcaster, performer

‘Ged Pope’s book about Suburban London is a superbly curated compendium of writers’ representations of its mysterious, ever-changing geographies, one that makes them seem every bit as culturally and socially important as the city’s various historic centres. Urgently and vividly written, it is full of scintillating insight into the public and private lives of the suburbs’ inhabitants through the centuries. All the Tiny Moments Blazing will make every reader, whatever their relationship to the suburbs, rethink the history of London.’ — Matthew Beaumont, author of ‘Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London’ (2015)

‘As someone who loves both literature and suburbia – and the literature of suburbia – All the Tiny Moments Blazing is the book I have been waiting a lifetime to read. It is a social history, an anthology and a gazetteer rolled into one. Ged Pope takes the reader on a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable tour of the places most of us actually live.’ — Andy Miller, author of 'The Year of Reading Dangerously' (2014)

‘For anyone remotely interested in London and its people, it’s an essential and highly readable volume. I can’t imagine why nobody ever thought of it before.’ — Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant & May mysteries

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Ged Pope specializes in cultural studies, London history and culture, and currently teaches at IES Study Abroad, in Bloomsbury.

1 ‘The Bastard Side’ – South East London (I): from Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Blackheath, Brockley to Lewisham
2 ‘The Howling Desert’ – South East London (II): from Camberwell, Peckham, Dulwich, Herne Hill to Forest Hill
3 ‘A Strange Feeling in the Air’ – Outer South East London: Sydenham and Penge, the ‘Norwoods’ (Crystal Palace, Lower Norwood), Bromley, Croydon
4 ‘So Very Grey and Mean’ – South West London: from Brixton, Clapham, Battersea, Wandsworth, Balham to Streatham
5 ‘Uncongenial Neighbours’ – Outer South West London: anti-clockwise from Wimbledon, Putney, Mortlake, Richmond, Twickenham, Teddington, Kingston, (Shepperton), Surbiton, New Malden/Worcester Park
6 ‘Real Stability’ – West London: Clockwise, from Hammersmith, Chiswick, Brentford, (Hounslow), Southall, Ealing, Acton, Shepherd’s Bush/White City
7 ‘Fine Things to Be Seen’ – North West London: Kensal Green, Harlesden, Neasden/Willesden, Kilburn, Wembley, Harrow, Ruislip, Outer North West
8 ‘Aspiring in the Air’ – North London from Camden Town, Primrose Hill, Kentish Town, Holloway, Crouch End, Stoke Newington, Islington to Highbury
9 ‘So Near Heaven’ – Hampstead and Highgate
10 ‘In All Places High and Low’ – Outer North London: Clockwise, following the North Circular Road, from Hendon, Finchley, Barnet, Cockfosters, Enfield, Palmers Green, Ponders End to Tottenham
11 ‘The Odour of Old Stone’ – East London from Dalston, Hackney, Walthamstow, Stratford to the Isle of Dogs
12 ‘The Overlooked City’ – Outer East London: Barking, Ilford, Romford, Dagenham to Rainham/Purfleet

A Reader’s Guide
Photo Acknowledgements