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The Midway Point

September 30, 2023
by the gentle author



After two weeks, we have now reached the midway point of our month’s crowdfund campaign and I am grateful to the 84 people who have contributed a total of £10,405, and touched by your messages of encouragement. I am hoping that we can reach the target in the next two weeks, by 14th October.

Please consider helping us take a big step by becoming a patron and receiving a signed fine art print by Doreen Fletcher, signed photographic prints by David Hoffman and Sarah Ainslie, plus an inscribed copy of my forthcoming book.

Although I write on the internet, I still believe in the primacy of books. The world wide web could get wiped out tomorrow but history teaches us that books endure. Publishing books is not an easy task, yet I am passionate to do it when I find stories that I want to cherish, that I know people will love, and that I believe deserve to be dignified in our time and for posterity.

A good example of such a story is Suresh Singh’s ‘A Modest Living, Memoirs of a Cockney Sikh.’ But equally, a collection of photography such as Horace Warner’s ‘Spitalfields Nippers’ or a collection of artworks such Doreen Fletcher’s ‘Paintings’ comprise incredibly important stories that needed to be published.

In different ways, each of the three new books I want to publish is a witness of our times and I am committed to publish them so you can have copies and we can share them with everyone, and they can be a legacy and record of our era.

Fieldgate Mansions, Whitechapel, 1981


David Hoffman’s A Place to Live, Endurance & Joy in the East End 1971-87 is the outcome of more than ten years work in which he photographed the lives of the people around him in Whitechapel. No-other photographer did this with such candour and compassion as David. We have already worked for more than three years to organise this brilliant photography with David’s testimony to create the best possible book. I am publishing David’s work because I believe it is an invaluable social record.



For over ten years now, Hackney Mosaic Project led by Tessa Hunkin has created breathtakingly beautiful and witty public mosaics across the East End. People are astonished when they come upon one, but once they are all collected into a book the monumental scale of the achievement will become evident. I want this to be celebrated and I want people in the future to know that – even in a time of austerity – local people worked together as volunteers to create artworks of enduring beauty to enhance their neighbourhoods.


Anna & Maria Pellicci at their restaurant founded by Elide Pellicci in 1900


Sarah Ainslie’s Women at Work in the East End, 1992 – 2023, collects a unique gallery of exuberant portraits that capture the passion and struggle of the working life. What began as Sarah’s personal project drawing on her archive over thirty years and her work as Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer, has become a panoramic survey of social change and is destined to be the historic record of women’s working lives in London through the past three decades.




Best wishes for getting the publishing going again! I lived in Fieldgate Mansions in the early 80’s, towards the end of David Hoffman’s time there. I don’t think I ever met him, but it was very moving to see his photos and I look forward to the book being published.

Garth Maeer

Your blog is the first thing I read every morning. It is a joy. I admire all that you do in the community. Thank you.

Christine Chinnery

Best of luck Gentle Author! From your biggest Nuevo México fan!

Melissa Delano

The three publications look fantastic. Particularly looking forward to reading Sarah Ainslie’s Women at Work in the East End

Madeleine Ruggi

Good luck!

Simon Costin

In honour of Tessa Hunkin and her team and their magical work.

Michael Zilkha

Good luck, wish you success

Vivienne Ritchie

Delighted owner of many of your titles and looking forward to buying the Mosaics book. Your blog a constant source of delight for many years now. Thank you

Raymond Golland

Supporting because we’d love to see Sarah Ainslie’s book published, alongside all the other great projects

Maya Corry

Brilliant projects! Amie and Jason x

Amie Corry

Living in Wisconsin, USA, your words and images transport me to a different time and place that need to be known and are impossible to see without you. Thank you for your dedication to history.

Maria Rogers

2 Responses leave one →
  1. September 30, 2023

    The sentiment that binds these books is dignity. David Hoffman has captured life in all of its joy, despair and uniqueness. He has captured a particular place and period of history. Celebrities and famous events are endlessly documented, but not ordinary people and their struggles. This is a significant and valuable body of work.
    The Hackney Mosaic Project is joyful. The mosaics brighten dull concrete and turn it into something wonderful to be treasured. I also enjoy reading about the volunteers who work so hard, learning mosaic construction and contributing to these wonderful pieces. In creating something beautiful, their lives are similarly enriched.
    I am looking forward to seeing Women at Work in the East End in print also. My late mum told me that WWII turned employment on its head. Jobs previously considered “men’s work” we done by women out of necessity. She used an early computer that performed ballistic calculations used to target anti-aircraft guns. After the war ended she worked in a bank, also using a calculating machine. When she married, she was required to give up her job – quite ridiculous when you think about it. She studied bookkeeping in an evening class and worked for several companies managing their accounts, even embracing the computer revolution, using a Burroughs machine in the 1970s. She was reliable, accurate and a mathematical wizard. I think the back stories of how and why some women are doing the jobs that they do are fascinating. Even those that appear mundane, contribute to making others’ lives better in some way.
    I am an very much looking forward to seeing all three volumes in print and adding them to my bookshelf.

  2. Mario permalink
    September 30, 2023

    I joined gentle author only few weeks ago. I am amazed at such valuable work it represents. Makes me love east end of london and its great history because it’s a story of people. Every morning under the italian sky in milan there’s someone waiting for your email. Thanks for what you do with such a great passion.

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