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The Relaunch Of Spitalfields Life Books

September 16, 2023
by the gentle author


Starting in 2013 with The Gentle Author’s London Album, Spitalfields Life Books published 15 books over 6 years until the pandemic shut us down. Now we are ready to begin again and we are inspired by a string of new titles that we have ready to publish.

We are launching a crowdfund to raise enough money to cover production of our next three books, then income from sales of these will permit us to continue and publish more. We print within Europe on paper from sustainable sources and we have established relationships with booksellers and distributors. Almost all copies of our previous titles have sold out.

Take a look at our future plans and consider our phenomenal publishing record.






David Hoffman’s bold, humane photography records a lost decade, speaking vividly to our own times. Living in Whitechapel through the 70s, David documented homelessness, racism, the incursion of developers and the rise of protest in startlingly intimate and compassionate pictures to compose a vital photographic testimony of resilience.

“The old East End was disappearing as I took these photographs, being able to bring back a glimpse of its spirit in this book means a lot to me.”

David Hoffman


Tessa Hunkin and Hackney Mosaic Project have created breathtakingly beautiful and witty mosaics in locations all across the East End over the past ten years. In the process, Tessa has won the reputation as the pre-eminent mosaic designer in this country while leading a community endeavour that has elevated the lives of hundreds of participants.

“A beautiful book about Hackney Mosaic Project will be the best reward for all the people who have worked on the mosaics, bringing their achievement to a wider public and giving them the recognition they so well deserve.”

Tessa Hunkin


Sarah Ainslie celebrates the contribution of female labour over the past thirty years in exuberant portraits that capture the passion and struggle of the working life. Drawn from Sarah’s personal archive and her work as Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer, this is a panoramic survey of social change.

“It means so much to me and will be an important recognition of all the women I have photographed over the years for this book to be published by Spitalfields Life Books, a perfect home for it.” Sarah Ainslie

Beyond these titles, we are co-publishing a limited edition of The Gentle Author’s short story ON CHRISTMAS DAY with Burley Fisher Books and compiling a monograph of Markéta Luskačová’s photographs of Spitalfields for future publication.

Photograph by Markéta Luskačová, Cheshire St 1979


We are emboldened by the great success of our books to date. Here are a few important titles we published that have celebrated the culture of the East End.

In EAST END VERNACULAR, we published the first 20th century art history of the East End and we followed it with DOREEN FLETCHER: PAINTINGS, elevating the work of a major artist who had been unjustly neglected.

Clockwise: Still Standing, Pharmacy Commercial Rd, Hotdog Stand in Mile End Park and Royal London Hospital.

“When my monograph was published by Spitalfields Life Books it was very well received and the edition sold out quickly. I reached an audience I would never have encountered otherwise and those who already held my work gave it more prominence in their collections. The publication made a huge difference to my life and I am very appreciative of the immense support of The Gentle Author.”

Doreen Fletcher

In A MODEST LIVING by Suresh Singh, we published the first biography of a London Sikh, described the Observer as ‘a timely reminder of all that modern Britishness encompasses.’

Photograph of Suresh Singh and Jagir Kaur by Patricia Niven

“Jagir Kaur and I loved working with The Gentle Author on our book, TGA listened and cherished each word of our story giving us wisdom of layout, images and design”

Suresh Singh AKA ‘The Cockney Sikh’

We have championed and celebrated the previously unknown photography of Horace Warner (SPITALFIELDS NIPPERS), Colin O’Brien (LONDON LIFE), John Claridge (EAST END) and Bob Mazzer (UNDERGROUND).

Published 2015

Published 2017

Published 2014

“It was a complete joy to have my first book published by Spitalfields Life Books, and having the wise guidance and swift, brilliant decision-making of The Gentle Author at every turn.”

Eleanor Crow

‘Could hardly be bettered’ The Times

‘Real narrative verve’ Evening Standard

‘Deserves to become a standard work’ TLS

Julian Woodford was appointed as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society on the basis of his ground-breaking history.

“Working with Spitalfields Life Books was a joy from start to finish. Experts in editing, design, production and publicity worked together seamlessly, but the real differentiator was a genuine collective desire to produce a beautiful book. In this they succeeded magnificently and the excitement of seeing the first copy will live with me forever.”

Julian Woodford

Published 2013

Published 2018

“This small, beautiful book is an elegy to companionship. Encompassing both the everyday and the profound, it should be judged no less valid for the fact that the friend in question is a cat.” Times Literary Supplement

Published 2019

Published 2013

Published 2015

Published 2018

‘This book will provide even the most unaccustomed of map readers with hours of entertainment and intrigue’ Independent

‘The artist has a keen eye for pop culture and absurdity, which gives each artwork an unexpected zing’ Matthew Oldham, World of Interiors

Published 2017

‘Zola without the trimmings.’ The Observer

Published 2015



5 Responses leave one →
  1. Greg T permalink
    September 16, 2023

    I will certainly buy a copy of the “Mosaics” book, when it comes out.
    Which reminds me – here in Walthamstow, as you know (?) there is now a rich & varied collection of “Large Wall Art” on building ends & sides, which is ongoing, I’m glad to say.
    Would that be a suitable subject for a future publication?

  2. Carolyn Hirst permalink
    September 16, 2023

    Congratulations – excellent news! And I’m looking forward to reading/seeing more.

  3. September 16, 2023

    Onward and upward, GA. I have several of your previous titles, and they are favorites in my art library. Beautifully produced to last, all of the volumes reflect your unerring radar and dedication.
    Enduring favorites are John Claridge photos, and the Adam Dant map book. In both cases, I’ve gotten hours of enjoyment and visual nourishment from these books. Claridge is a new-to-me discovery, and this book provides endless examples of his narrative, dramatic photos. And I think the Adam Dant map book (baronial-sized as a real MAP book should be!) is a must for anyone interested in graphic design, the art of map-making, and far more. It is a wonderful book to hold in one’s lap and slowly turn the pages, inspecting each detail.

    The prospect of a book about the mosaic work is thrilling.

  4. Linda Granfield permalink
    September 16, 2023

    Congratulations on the relaunch of SLB! I’ve enjoyed the titles I purchased and have re-read some. I saw the mention of On Christmas Day.That story has been with me every Christmas since you first shared it with us. Superb!

  5. Naomi permalink
    September 18, 2023

    What a back catalogue – it is really impressive. You should be immensely proud.And going forward I really like the sound of David Hoffman’s book (my era of visiting as a young teen) and Markéta Luskačová’s monograph.

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