If I’m being honest, I’d never heard of Fitzrovia until about twenty years ago. Then one afternoon, I caught the back end of a play on Radio 4 called Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky. Not a lot on the Dial-Up Internet back then, only the authors’ name, Patrick Hamilton.
I called in at my local bookshop (Ask your Grandparents!) and was delighted to find that the owner was a bit of a Hamilton aficionado. She explained that the play I had heard was based on a trilogy of books written in 1935. A little about Hamiltons life was passed on and I left the shop with, The Midnight Bell, the first part of the trilogy.
I quickly progressed through the other two parts and began on some of his other works. I don’t intend this to be a piece of literary criticism, only to say that Hamilton draws on the seedier side of London Life in most of his books and that his semi-biographical observations about his surroundings, in many cases Fitzrovia, and human nature in general, make them a very good read.
It was in these novels that my interest in Fitzrovia grew, and many years later, I started taking friends around the area, culminating in the Beyond the fringe tour that I now run https://www.alondonmiscellany.com/beyond-the-fringe
In 2005 the BBC released a DVD based on the trilogy, which is very closely related to Hamiltons novels. It does give a really good flavour of life in Fitzrovia between the two World Wars. It can be found on Youtube in three parts https://youtu.be/1J5GELcGk6Q
Monday Morning (1925)
Craven House (1926, revised edition 1943)
Twopence Coloured (1928)
The Midnight Bell (1929)
The Siege of Pleasure (1932)
The Plains of Cement (1934)
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (1935 – trilogy of The Midnight Bell, The Siege of Pleasure and The Plains of Cement)
Impromptu in Moribundia (1939)
Hangover Square (1941)
The Slaves of Solitude (1947)
The West Pier (1952)
Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse (1953)
Unknown Assailant (1955)