Here's the official press release for my new book, out next week. At the bottom is a list of talks and readings I'm giving over the next six weeks or so. Amazon is already shipping the book. It's also available on Kindle, but you miss out on some seriously beautiful design work - just ask the first reviewer...
Dickens, Chaucer, Scoundrels, Scallywags, Sugababes and a lock-in involving Princess Margaret: the astonishing history of one legendary pub.
Pete Brown, author of three best-selling social histories based around beer, returns to the pub with his latest book Shakespeare's Local, which hits the shelves on 8th November. It has also been selected as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in the week before Christmas, guaranteeing its place in the stockings of book-lovers around the country.
Shakespeare’s Local: Six Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub is the story of the George Inn, Southwark, the last surviving galleried coaching inn in London. It reveals how the pub, as well as playing a key role in the development of Elizabethan theatre, was also close to the birth of English literature (Geoffrey Chaucer's Tabard stood just next door) and has its own dubious poetic claim, having been immortalised by the leading (possibly only) exponent of Stuart-era Fart Poetry. The George also counted Charles Dickens among its many fans.
"At a time when pubs are getting shafted from all sides, I wanted to write a perfect case study of how important pubs have been throughout our history," says Brown. "This was helped by the fundamental truth that a good boozer always has a few interesting characters propping up the bar. Take a look at five or six hundred years in the history of one pub, and the characters you discover pretty much do the job for you."
However, it’s a small miracle the book got finished at all. In a stroke of supreme irony, Brown was nine months into the project, with 25,000 words written (but not backed up) on his laptop when it got stolen – in his local pub. "I had to start again from scratch with four months left before my deadline," says Brown. "People ask me if having to rewrite every word to that point has made it a better book. Being chosen as Book of the Week suggests it has, but I still wouldn't recommend leaving your laptop unattended in a busy pub for four hours as a technique for any aspiring writer."
About the book
Sit down for a pint with Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens in the most extraordinary pub in British history with ‘the beer drinkers’ Bill Bryson’.
Welcome to the George Inn near London Bridge; a cosy, wood-panelled, galleried coaching house a few minutes' walk from the Thames. And consider this: who else has stopped to drink, gossip, do business and relax here over the last 600 years?
Chaucer and his fellow pilgrims probably drank in the George on their way out of London to Canterbury. Shakespeare will have popped in from the nearby Globe for a pint, and Dickens was a regular. Mail carriers changed their horses here, before heading to all four corners of Britain -- while sailors drank here before visiting all four corners of the world...
The pub is the ‘primordial cell of British life’ and The George is the perfect case study. This pub has seen it all, from murderers, highwaymen and ladies of the night to gossiping pedlars and hard-working clerks. Pete Brown takes us on a revealing historical tour as buildings and the capital’s fortunes rise and fall around this one extraordinary local and its colourful cast of regulars.
About the author
Pete Brown is an influential drinks writer and commentator, with columns for London Loves Business, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser and Just-Drinks.com. In 2009 Pete was named Beer Writer of the Year by the British Guild of Beer Writers. He has recently been a judge for the BBC Food & Farming Awards and the Great Taste Awards, and this year has appeared on a number of high profile radio and TV programmes including Great Train Journeys with Michael Portillo, Radio 4’s Food Programme, Sky News and BBC4’s Timeshift. He’s the author of Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer; Three Sheets to the Wind and Hops and Glory, which saw him dubbed ‘The Beer Drinker’s Bill Bryson’ by both the TLS and The Independent. Pete’s award-winning blog is at http://petebrown.blogspot.com.
For further information please contact Dusty Miller on 020 7014 6188 or email email@example.com
Tour dates confirmed so far: more to follow
Monday 5th November - Windsor & Eton Brewery
As part of the Thames Valley History Festival, in association with Waterstone's, we're doing an event in this excellent brewery, which I'm sure will be offering some of their brilliant ales and lagers to taste.
7.30pm. Tickets £6
Tuesday 6th November - Stoke Newington Bookshop
My N16 launch at my local bookshop. Hope to see the crowd from the Jolly Butchers and White Hart at this one! There may be beer. And we'll carry on afterwards in a local hostelry.
6.30pm. Free admission.
Sunday 11th November - The Free Trade Inn, Newcastle
A late Sunday afternoon gathering in one of Newcastle's best pubs.
Final details TBC
Monday 12th November - The Rat Inn, Anick
A chat in this beautiful pub near Hexham, Northumberland, with New Writing North.
7pm. £5, fully redeemable against book purchase.
Tuesday 13th November - The Portico Library, Manchester
In association with the Urmston Bookshop, I'm told this is a stunning venue. And I love Manchester.
6.30pm. Tickets £7
Wednesday 14th November - Caught by the River at Rough Trade East
I love Caught by the River and everything they stand for. Ditto Rough Trade East. Thrilled to be doing an event with them in this amazing music shop just off Brick Lane.
7pm. Free admission
Thursday 15th November - Big Green Bookshop
Delighted to be finally doing an event with one of London's coolest independent bookshops.
Final details TBC.
Wednesday 21st November - Richmond Literary Festival
An event in a beer shop. And not just any beer shop - realeale.com's HQ is beer paradise. Very proud to be doing this as part of the Richmond Literary Festival.
7.30pm. £10 (includes beer tasting)
Thursday 22nd November - Exmouth Arms with Clerkenwell Tales
Another great pub in conjunction with another wonderful, inspiring independent bookshop.
Final details TBC
Monday 26th November - Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London
Proud to be asked to be part of a series of lecture's on people's history. I think mine may be a little more frivolous than some of the others.
5.30pm. Free admission
Thursday 29th November - Literary Death Match!
This is not a normal reading. This is authors fighting to the death. Literally! Well, literarily.
Final details TBC
Tuesday 4th December - The George!
And finally, I bring the book home. This one will be special - talking about the book inside the pub itself, with a somewhat Dickensian Christmassy theme
Free admission on the door
Wednesday 12th December - Romford Library
Only just confirmed so no details as yet, but this library is passionate about author events and has hosted some great people - more info asap.