Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Streets of East London

This book was first published by Duckworth in 1979 and I must have bought what is now a very battered copy around then. A less battered copy by the same publisher shows that the book ran to nine impressions by 2000. Our 2006 edition has just been reprinted for the second or third time and is available here: When I first read Bill Fishman's book I was attracted by the fine archival photographs, contemporary photographs by Nicholas Breach and the wonderful essays by the author on poverty, philanthropy, immigrants, crime and radicals, especially radicals. I mentioned in a previous blog (4th of this month) that Bill Fishman is now ninety. At the afternoon tea in celebration at his old haunt of Queen Mary's on Mile End Road Professor Morag Shiach said: "Bill Fishman was appointed Barnet Shine Senior Research Fellow in the early 1970s. He had already established himself as a labour historian, having written his book The Insurrectionists [paperbacked a year back by Five Leaves] during the period of his Schoolmaster Fellowship at Balliol. Upon arrival at Queen Mary he was able to develop his specialisation in East End history. His scholarship, which was manifest in his prize-winning book, East End Jewish Radicals [yup, Five Leaves] and in his later volumes such as East End 1888 [that too] promoted the College as a place to which those who wished to learn about the East End could turn.
Bill's expertise in the filed of East London social and political history drew students from all over the world, but most particularly from America, where Bill had been a visiting professor in the late 1960s. Bill has always enriched the lives of his students, researchers and other academics with his walks around the East End, enhancing the drier elements of historical data with amusing and revealing political and social anecdotes. Bill retired as a full time academic in 1986, leaving a legacy that has encouraged those who have come after. The template Bill laid down at Queen Mary for researching and reporting on the East End and its people has ensured that the College remains at the centre of academic work on the immigrant population of East London and beyond and has been able to sustain and develop its commitment to the study of migration more broadly."
Then we had cake.

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