Eel Pie Island

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Frances Lincoln Limited, 2009 - Music - 112 pages
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Eel Pie Island, the only inhabited island on the River Thames, has been described as “120 drunks clinging to a mudbank.” A tiny place, just 600 yards long, 150 feet at its widest, and home to a few dozen homes and businesses, the island has enjoyed two periods of special fame: in the 19th century, it was a popular resort for Charles Dickens and other Londoners who came by newfangled steamboats to spend the day at the grand hotel that dominated the island till 1969. In the 1950s and 1960s, it became a hip venue for England’s hottest jazz, R&B, and rock bands. All over Britain and beyond, Eel Pie Island and its famous concerts are remembered with a nostalgic, and sometimes knowing, smile. This book tells the island’s story from the Stone Age to The Rolling Stones and beyond, illustrating every period with a wealth of rare images and atmospheric contemporary photographs.

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About the author (2009)

DAN VAN DER VAT, author and journalist, was a foreign correspondent on The Times of London for a decade, and later Chief Foreign Leaderwriter on The Guardian until he left to write books on naval history and related subjects.Of his dozen books, three won awards, two were bestsellers and his work has been translated into 14 languages. He still writes occasionally for The Guardian.

MICHELE WHITBY manages the "Par Ici" shop in Twickenham, where the work of local artists and craftspeople, several of them still based on Eel Pie Island, is sold. Before that she spent 12 years running a workshop on the island, where she produced top-quality leather goods. She enjoyed a friendship with Arthur Chisnall, the self-appointed social worker and concert promoter at the heart of Eel Pie Island's 50s and 60s heyday, and he left her a mass of invaluable papers and photographs.

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