A welcome reissue of one of Patrick Hamilton's best, with an introduction by Doris Lessing. The Slaves of Solitude is set in a wartime boarding house in a small town on the Thames. The Rosamund Tea Rooms is an oppressive place, as grey and lonely as its residents. For Miss Roach, slave of her task-master, solitude, a window of opportunity is suddenly presented by the appearance of a charismatic American Lieutenant. His arrival brings change to the precarious society of the house and ultimately, to Miss Roach herself.
<div><p>A stunning anomaly within the literary oeuvre of Patrick Hamilton, <i>Impromptu in Moribundia</i> (first published in 1939) is the most explicit production of his interest in a Marxist analysis of society. It is a satirical fable about one (nameless) man's trespass (through a fantastical machine called the 'Asteradio') into a parallel universe on a far-off planet where the 'miserably dull affairs of England' are mirrored and transformed into an apparent idyll of bourgeois English imagination.</p><p></p><p>Moribundia - in the words of Peter Widdowson, editor and annotator of this edition - is the 'physical enactment of the stereotypes and myths of English middleclass culture and consciousness.' Yet the narrator comes to discover that he has stumbled among a people characterized by 'cupidity,</p><p>ignorance, complacence, meanness, ugliness, short-sightedness, cowardice, credulity, hysteria and, when the occasion...
'West Kensington - grey area of rot, and caretaking, and cat-slinking basements. West Kensington - drab asylum for the driven and cast-off genteel!' Patrick Hamilton was acutely conscious that his third novel (first published in 1928) was longer and 'much grimmer' than his previous and well-received productions. Twopence Coloured is the story of 19-year-old Jackie Mortimer, who leaves Hove in search of a life on the London stage, only to become entangled in 'provincial theatre' and complex affairs of the heart with two brothers, Richard and Charles Gissing. The novel, unavailable for many years, is a gimlet-eyed portrait of the theatrical vocation, and fully exhibits Hamilton's celebrated gift for conjuring London - the 'vast, thronged, unknown, hooting, electric-lit, dark-rumbling metropolis.
The Midnight Bell, a pub on the Euston Road, is the pulse of this brilliant and compassionate trilogy. It is here where the barman, Bob, falls in love with Jenny, a West End prostitute who comes in off the streets for a gin and pep. Around his obsessions, and Ella the barmaid's secret love for him, swirls the sleazy life of London in the 1930s. This is a world where people emerge from cheap lodgings in Pimlico to pour out their passions, hopes and despair in pubs and bars—a world of twenty thousand streets full of cruelty and kindness, comedy and pathos, wasted dreams and lost desires.