Posts Tagged ‘willy goldman’

Please allow us to introduce you to – or, better, reacquaint you with – the remarkable writer whom C.P. Snow called ‘our best reporter of the East End’, whom the poet Richard Church hailed as ‘a sort of Proust of the Whitechapel Road’
Willy Goldman (1910-2009) was remembered for a Guardian obituary by the Oxford English Professor Valentine Cunningham as:

“an outstanding member of the small group of “proletarian” writers encouraged into existence in the 1930s by left-wing literary operators. East End My Cradle, Goldman’s hard-eyed autobiographical vignettes of immigrant East End Jewish life – impoverished, tough, in thrall to the sweat-shop boss and perennial fluctuations in the garment trade – is a classic. First published in 1940 by Faber & Faber with the blessing of TS Eliot, it has, rightly, kept coming back into print.”

Well, Faber Finds is very pleased and proud to now welcome East End My Cradle: Portrait of an Environment onto its list: the book is available to order as of this month. There is little need for us to spell out its virtues when we are in a position to reproduce below just a selection of the glowing tributes it has received during its published life.

‘Mr. Goldman’s book [is] one of the most remarkable pictures of poor life that even these last dozen proletarian-conscious years have produced.’ The Listener

‘This descriptive story of Jewish working class life is equally notable as a human document and for its outstanding literary qualities.’ Jewish Chronicle

‘This is an autobiography in the realistic tradition of Gissing’s novels and the late J. A. R. Cairns’s Drab Street Glory, though Gissing wrote as an exile from another class and Cairns as a sympathetic magistrate, whereas Mr. Goldman was born to the life he describes so convincingly.’ John O’London’s Weekly

‘Mr Goldman writes like a master – he is vivid and most moving.’ J. D. Mallon, The Spectator

‘The great virtue of his writing is in his power of detachment in expression.’ Sunday Times

‘He can be as sad as lovers on tenement stairs and as gay as a bus or a barrowload of oranges… There is enough experience and feeling here for many books…’ Graham Bell, New Statesman & Nation

‘A part of London which has tempted many writers here gets justice. Its sordid glamour and strange character are boldly paraded. The fights and the fun at a slum school, the merciless grip of the sweat-shop, the struggle to be free to rise above it all, are excellently done.’ ‘J.V.’, Daily Herald

‘[East End My Cradle] is unusually objective and is lightened by a spirit of tolerance and a keen and veracious power of observation.’ Times Literary Supplement

”A Youthful Idyll’ [which forms a chapter of the book]… is a work of genius.’ Roy Fenton, Tribune

‘What makes Mr. Goldman’s picture remarkable is not only its vivid and living drawing, but the fact that humour, rather than bitterness, is its prevailing note… a fine and moving chapter called ‘A Youthful Idyll’… with slight alterations might survive as a short story as poignant as anything of Gorky…’ H E Bates, Books of the Month

‘The story of Minka [in ‘A Youthful Idyll’], torn by consumption, suffering an eternity in one short youthful life, is told with a quiet pathos and sincerity unrivalled in modern English writing.’ ‘R.C.’, University College Magazine


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The classic novel by Jean Rhys, whose definitive biography is now in Finds

It’s my pleasure to unveil another strong, diverse and enticing selection of titles newly reissued in Finds as of this month. The nominees for your reading pleasure are:


A Spirit Rises – Sylvia Townsend Warner
Our second offering of stories from this brilliant and versatile author, much admired by (inter alia) Sarah Waters and Ali Smith. Dovegreyreader also offers a recent appreciation here.

A Test to Destruction – Henry Williamson
The eighth of the fifteen titles in the Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight sequence, the numbers of whose readers in Finds appear to be growing daily…

The Bath Detective – Christopher Lee
The first in a thriller trilogy by the acclaimed novelist, historian and broadcaster whose own website is here.

Mark Only – T. F. Powys
The latest in our restoration to print of extraordinary works by the more austere of the prodigious Powys boys (see previous post here)…


Jean Rhys: Life and Work – Carole Angier
The definitive study of the melancholy author whose glorious final novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, confirmed Al Alvarez in calling her “the best living English novelist.”

The Embattled Mountain – F. W. D. Deakin
Bill Deakin’s scintillating account of his WWII mission into Yugoslavia to locate and assess Tito and his Partisans. Our earlier post on Deakin is here, and Mark Wheeler’s tremendous New Introduction here.

Secret Classrooms: An Untold Story of the Cold War – Geoffrey Elliott & Harold Shukman
A gem of an insight into how certain bright young scholars of the 1950s (among them A. Bennett, M. Frayn and DM Thomas) sidestepped National Service so as to be instructed in Russian for the betterment of the Cold War effort. Fine Spectator review here, and more to come on this blog…

Enid Bagnold – Anne Sebba
Our latest from Anne Sebba, a marvellous study of the brilliant and controversial woman who wrote National Velvet and The Chalk Garden. See Anne’s personal author site here.

Lloyd George: From Peace to War, 1912-1916 – John Grigg
We continue to reissue Grigg’s magisterial sequence, hailed by the Telegraph as overall “one of the most brilliant biographies of recent times”, this third volume the winner of the Wolfson Prize.

East End My Cradle – Willy Goldman
An unforgettable, affectionate evocation of 1930s London life from an author hailed in his time as “a sort of Proust of the Whitechapel Road.” Longer appreciation to follow on this blog v soon…

The Coming of the Barbarians: A Story of Western Settlement in Japan 1853-1870 – Pat Barr
An evocative and apt title for Pat Barr’s indispensable account of the opening to Japan first forged by US Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry – a story that inspired, inter alia, Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures

Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History – Roy Foster
An inspired collection of thematically-linked essays praised in the LRB by Colm Toibin as ‘important and original’. (Toibin also hailed Foster as ‘the most brilliant and courageous Irish historian of his generation’, and his fascinating essay is fully available here.)

How the English Made the Alps – Jim Ring
An exciting anecdotal study of how 19th-century English poets, Christians and natural scientists sought out the highest peaks of Alpine glory, driven – as E.S. Turner put it in his LRB review – by “lust for adventure, scientific curiosity, vanity, national pride, the need for spiritual uplift, the geological urge to disprove Genesis, the expansion of railways, the tourist mania, the deathly pilgrimages of the tubercular and, finally, the primitive and irresistible joys of the piste…” Phew!

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