Fall in Love with the Past

John Hocking

Yes I confess. Although I’ve been happily married to my Hero-at-Home for 37 years I have let another man into my heart. I couldn’t help it. It seemed innocent enough at first but before I knew it I was in the middle of something beyond my control. But please don’t judge me; not until you read all the facts.

Aiden TurnerIt all started harmlessly enough in my first book No Cure for Love. Set in 1832 in Victorian East London I need a sweetheart for 13 year old Josie O’Casey and so I invented Patrick Nolan. Tall, Irish and with melt-you green eyes and a mass of curly black hair he was already half the man he would grow to be. He was honest and fearless, too. Not only did he saved Josie from the sadistic Danny Donavan but breaking free from the poverty of his birth he carved out his own way in life by signing on to a merchant ship on the open sea. Continue reading

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I’d like to tell you about the area where I was born and write about, East London.

East London Street

East London Street

The Fullertons came to the Wapping area of East London from Rothesay in Scotland in the 1820s and my great-great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Fullerton, is shown on the 1841 census as living in Star Lane at the back of Cable Street. It was natural then when I started writing eleven years ago that I looked no further than my own backyard for inspiration. Why wouldn’t I, when East London has such a rich vein of pageant and spectacle? Add to that the river pirates, the gangs, pubs and music halls that were a feature of the teaming waterfront and there’s drama enough for any writer. Continue reading

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Ripper Street

Ripper Street

It’s no surprise to me that the two prime slots on the BBC Sunday night schedule are both filled with stories set in the place where I was born East London. The lawless alleyways, courtyards and tenements of the area have long been a rich source of inspiration for both popular and literary fiction.

Along with his journalistic exploration of East London Dickens, accompanied by members of Scotland Yard’s newly formed CID, visited pubs, opium dens and penny gaffs. He also used East End locations in his books such as the Red Cow public house in Pickwick Papers and his most famous villain, Fagan, was supposed to have been based on an East End fence named Ikey Solomon.

Dickens wasn’t alone in finding the squalid streets east of the City rich pickings. It’s just a short stroll along the Highway to Limehouse where Fu Manchu, Max Rohmer’s dastardly and inscrutable baddie, masterminded a Chinese criminal empire. Continue reading

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