fine writing... tradecraft...
the funny side... the other side... foreign affairs... history... biography... fiction...
food and drink
The newest genre in the frantic world of book
publishing – books by journalists and about journalism – has already been dubbed
‘hack-lit’… So what is hack-lit? It is a brilliant concept… Garth Gibbs, the Independent
Some of the greatest names in British
newspapers are among the authors and the subjects in this unique collection and
more information click on the author names or in the column on the left.
Cassandra (William Connor) was possibly the most
famous columnist in post-war journalism. For more than thirty years he set new
styles for writing, commentary and straight-forward reporting – copied often,
but never matched or beaten.
Keith Waterhouse, the first living author to have a book (Billy Liar) on the GCSE syllabus,
succeeded Cassandra as chief columnist on the Daily Mirror (for 26 years) before moving to the Daily Mail (23 years).His book on
newspaper style (first drafted in 1979) is still revered and read avidly and
with joy by students and practitioners of the trade.
Vincent Mulchrone occupied the throne as best feature writer
in Fleet Street, admired by almost everybody for his apparently easy and always
graceful style. His love for the job shone through his work. He once said:
‘Journalism is the only form of human activity where the orgasm comes at the
the great game -
Anthony Delano wrote two of the best books (or maybe,
simply, the best books) about Fleet
Street at work. His first, Slip-Up
(later a TV film, scripted by Waterhouse) was described in The Times as a ‘cautionary tale... the story of the in-fighting and
downfall of all concerned has one rolling in the aisles. Mr Delano’s eye is
astute, his ear a credit to his profession at any level; and his wit is
accompanied by the ability to write clear English.’
His second work chronicled the tabloid newspaper chase
for an American beauty queen on the run after being accused of kidnapping and
raping a Mormon missionary in the English home counties. As they might say
nowadays, you couldn’t make it up.
Arnie Wilson’s job in newspapers was to telephone
famous people and persuade them to say something – anything – that might
interest readers. His charm, cheek and chutzpah invariably succeeded, often
with celebrities revealing more intimate or funny anecdotes than they had
the funny side of
Ian Skidmore was one of those happy reporters who
stumbled across unlikely stories and even less likely characters. Forgive Us Our Press Passes (revised and
doubled in length from its first edition) charts his life as a reporter, news
editor and hack-about-town and was the first title published under this
imprint. It led the way for the next thirty...
Colin Dunne entertained (and is still entertaining)
millions of readers with his canny ability to spot, and to report, the strange,
the odd, the unlikely and the just plain daft, producing interviews with
celebrities including film star Brigitte Bardot and Corky The Talking Dog.
Meanwhile back in the office were the immoral, completely unreliable, reckless,
feckless but richly talented and endlessly amusing colleagues wondering whether
they would ever be given an assignment, or whether they should simply go for a
long lunch and moan to each other about their lack of employment.
the other side of
A Crooked Sixpence by Murray
Sayle was described by Phillip Knightly (Sunday Times) as ‘the best novel about journalism – ever.’ It’s a
thinly disguised account of a young investigative reporter’s life on a
sensational Sunday newspaper... too thinly disguised for some – its original
publication was withdrawn and pulped after characters in the book thought their
identities were too easily recognised.
Harry Procter was a household name during his Fleet
Street days – when people heard of an unusual story they would say: ‘Tell Harry
Procter about it’. There hasn’t been a reporter with that sort of fame (or
notoriety) since. The Street of
Disillusion is a classic tale following a young man’s ambition to reach the
Street and make his name there covering all the big stories – murders,
fraudsters, runaways, wayward priests and nuns... and then to lose all faith
and hope in what some hacks referred to as The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
Eric Silver covered Israel for the Guardian and the Observer, later for the Independent
and newspapers and magazine from India to Los Angeles over a period of forty
years. His collection of skilfully drafted columns is more than a text book for
aspiring foreign correspondents: it is also a chronicle of the history of a
For ‘Foreign’ see also Justin Stares, Walter Schwarz.
One book that should be on every journalist’s shelf is
Publish and be Damned! by Hugh Cudlipp, doyen of best-selling
tabloid journalism. Subtitled The
astonishing story of the Daily Mirror, it records the first 50 years of
that newspaper – which Cudlipp controlled as editorial director and chairman
but never formally edited – culminating in its position as the best-selling
daily newspaper in the world. ‘Sparkles and flashes like a welder’s arc’ –
Not everything that the Daily Mirror touched turned to gold, even in its heyday. When the
pianist Liberace thought that the newspaper had implied that he was homosexual,
he sued. Former Mirror reporter Revel Barker, who had followed the case
by reading it on the way to school, later got to know most of the players (but
not Liberace) in this story and, working partly from the court transcripts, has
compiled the extraordinary account of what was to become the biggest and most
famous (and most expensive) libel trial since Oscar Wilde. ‘It’s the Liberace
show!’ – Time magazine.
It’s now more than 100 years since the first woman
became editor of a national daily newspaper. She lasted in the job only a few
weeks... before being replaced by a man. Liz
Hodgkinson pays tribute to some foot-soldiers and commanders of the regiment
of women – many of them household names – who by their courage and
determination helped shape and humanise national newspaper journalism.
From the broadsides of the sixteenth century to the
broadsheets of the 19th century, taking in the Civil War newsbooks, the gutter
press of the 18th century, the rise of Sunday papers full of sex, sport and
sensationalism, and the birth of the popular press, Bob Clarke describes the journey of the English newspaper from Grub
Street to Fleet Street. It vividly portrays the way the news was reported, to
provide a colourful, if often gruesome, picture of the social history of the
Goodman had a ringside
seat for the most momentous years of post-war politics from Bevan to Blair and
a special pass into the corridors of power. Michael Foot said: ‘We all knew
that he had the best story to tell, and here it is.’
Walter Schwarz decided when he was 13 that he wanted to
be a foreign correspondent and he achieved that ambition by working, mainly for
the Guardian, in Nigeria, Israel,
India, France and Germany with his wife, five children and a variety of dogs
and horses in tow. These were the days before computers or the Internet, when getting
the story was sometimes easier than getting it back to London.
Ennio Iacobucci, an illiterate boy from the mountains,
spent his childhood as a slave in an Italian monastery, then escaped to Rome
where he met and was befriended by the local Reuters correspondent who
encouraged him to become a photographer.
Justin Stares tracks the life of the Pulitzer nominee whose career took him
to Brussels, London, Paris, Israel and Saigon
For journalists’ biographies see also:
Colin Dunne, Harry Procter, Ian Skidmore
Nearly 70 years on, nobody still knows the certain
truth about the demise of Adolf Hitler. Using medical diaries and contemporary
news reports and interviews, Revel
Barker concocts one possible scenario which the Northern Echo described as ‘the most thought-provoking book of the
year’ and the Yorkshire Post made its
Book of the Month in the story of one reporter’s search for the facts behind
the so-called ‘history’.
A TV journalist embarks upon the greatest story of his
career – the background to his own life and that of his parents and his
adoptive family. It all leads to an even bigger story.... rooted in history’s
biggest crime: the holocaust. It is a tale worthy of Le Carre, related by a
former newspaper and television reporter Geoffrey
Seed who picked up the roots of the story over dinner with contacts.
A Fleet Street reporter takes redundancy and retires
to a Mediterranean island that his father had ‘liberated’ during the war. He
becomes editor of the local bi-weekly paper and then also mayor of the island.
It was the best-selling ‘political novel’ on amazon-uk when published in 2012
and is the first of the ‘Montebello’ trilogy by Revel Barker.
food and drink
In his Who’s Who
entry Keith Waterhouse listed his
sole hobby as ‘Lunch’. He has written an authoritative and delightfully witty
manual on the most agreeable meal of the day. ‘Informative, sensible,
well-written, entirely unpretentious... well worth the price of a bottle of
house red’ – the Observer.
As a reporter (chiefly Daily Mail, also The Times,
Daily Telegraph, Radio Times and others) William Greaves found that his job frequently took him to pubs. He
started collecting them or, rather, the stories behind them. He even, as ‘a
menopausal diversion’ actually owned and ran one. And then he realised that
there was a book in it.
reporter (Manchester, London, New York, Washington) Maggie Hall has for years been besotted by the taste – and by the
very idea – of brewers yeast extract and has written the definitive work on the
subject in dictionary form as a collection of the most amazing, zany,
interesting, erudite, amusing and stupid gems of information about... Marmite.
A ‘must’ gift for anybody in the ‘love-it’ camp that has literally spread
around the world.