Beyond the Tower A History of East London John Marriott

Publication date:
15 Sep 2011
Yale University Press
384 pages: 229 x 152mm
50 b/w illus.

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Beyond the TowerFrom Jewish clothing merchants to Bangladeshi curry houses, ancient docks to the 2012 Olympics, the area east of the City has always played a crucial role in London's history. The East End, as it has been known, was the home to Shakespeare's first theatre and to the early stirrings of a mass labour movement; it has also traditionally been seen as a place of darkness and despair, where Jack the Ripper committed his gruesome murders, and cholera and poverty stalked the Victorian streets.

In this beautifully illustrated history of this iconic district, John Marriott draws on 25 years of research into the subject to present an authoritative and endlessly fascinating account. With the aid of copious maps, archive prints and photographs, and the words of East Londoners from 17th-century silk-weavers to Cockneys during the Blitz, he explores the relationship between the East End and the rest of London, and challenges many of the myths which surround the area.

John Marriott is emeritus professor of history at the Raphael Samuel History Centre, University of East London.

"A major achievement.”—Euan Ferguson, Time Out

"Superb…"—Stephen Howe, The Independent

"Marriott has done a brilliant job of gazing past the theme-park standbys (from Jack the Ripper to the Krays) to give us a portrait of an area that once more – as in the 17th and 18th centuries – contains pockets of wealth, as well as steep poverty. The difference now is that the wealth is clustered upon the river’s edge, where once lascars, street children and old men and women struggled daily to survive. Perhaps the International Olympic Committee officials should read this terrific book as their chauffeured cars purr up and down the commandeered streets of Whitechapel next year."—Sinclair Mckay, Daily Telegraph

"East London’s turbulent story as an area always culturally and economically on the fringe (and for centuries beyond legislative reach thanks to the city wall) is mapped out in frequently fascinating detail in this rather good history… John Marriott convincingly suggests that the east’s identity has always been distorted by its mythologies."—Claire Allfree, Metro (London)

"Gripping... I hope we will see more of this: a new focus on East London encouraging a serious look at our history."—Stephen Timms MP

"Marriott’s new history of the East End, Beyond The Tower is an expert guide to the area. The author gives an authoritative overview of East London’s history that is scholarly and lucid, handling complex economic and demographic issues with impressive clarity… The narrative is enriched by descriptions of the vivid personalities and vital culture of East Enders… Marriott’s book gives us a fuller portrait of the communities of East London.”—Otto Saumarez Smith

"Marriott is at his most perceptive and sympathetic in his accounts of the struggles of the working people in the East End and its age-old role as the nursery of the waves of immigrants who have enriched British society: Huguenot weavers, Jews from Germany, Poland and Russia, the ‘lascars’ and Chinese of the Docks, and in more recent years, refugees from the former colonies of the British Empire, especially India."—Tim Knox, Country Life

"It has juicy details throughout... Start reading now and come the Olympics, you'll be able to reel off anecdotes with the best of them."—James Pallister, Architects Journal

"This is a very informative and interesting book about one of the most diverse parts of London, and it deserves to be read widely." Muhammad Khan, The Muslim News

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