London, both immediately preceding and during the Second World War, established itself as an unrivalled centre for the formation of collectives, or networks, of artists, writers and thinkers, working together to inform each other’s interrogative and, often, humorous responses to the radical new realities of the modern city. The nexus of most of these networks was to be found within the ambiguous, ill-defined warren of streets surrounding Fitzroy Square, later dubbed Fitzrovia. Here, amongst the saloon bars of Rathbone Place; the all-night eateries of Charlotte Street; and the basement clubs of Dean Street, was to be found an eclectic concentration of authors, artists and those to whom it is perhaps best to simply ascribe the label ‘bohemian’.
Focusing specifically on the role that the pubs of London have in the cultural sphere of the time, Fitzrovian Nights seeks to reconstruct these networks: to map the interdisciplinary force of the saloon bar, whose very insalubrity brought forth such obscure collaborations as John Piper’s with Evelyn Waugh; John Banting's with Julian Maclaren Ross and Dylan Thomas; and within which Nina Hamnett held court throughout generations of artistic movements. It is, in short, a sort of artistic pub crawl in print!