Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Minging London

The New Mayhew was originally published in Punch during the 50s as a satirical update of London Labour and the London Poor, the great Victorian work by the magazine's co-founder Henry Mayhew.  Travel writer Alex Atkinson and Britain's greatest cartoonist Ronald Searle teamed up to present a series of vignettes of the least glamorous corners of contemporary London life: "the dim, pastel tragedies that are daily being enacted, in this century, between Holloway and Streatham".  Atkinson's pen portraits are written in the heavy Victorian style of the original, lending a peculiar grandeur to their subjects, while Searle's illustrations are both grotesque and, often, incredibly poignant.

The pieces were collected together in a Penguin paperback in 1962 (the year of Atkinson's sudden, untimely death), which is as fascinating a document of 1950s London as you're likely to find.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that 50 years on there's a lot of potential for a modern equivalent. There's plenty of new tribes to be gently lampooned.