Literary Life

PUBLISHED: 16:27 01 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:08 20 February 2013

Recently released and forthcoming books with a Sussex feel

Hastings: Then & Now

by Mark Harvey

(The History Press, 12.99)

An endearing feature of old photographs depicting places we know is the sight of townspeople wandering unthreatened down the middle of streets.

When the sound of horses hooves was replaced by the explosive intrusion of motor vehicles, the appearance of town centres was to dramatically change, as this stunning collection of contrasts so colourfully illustrates.

London Road in Hastings is still dominated by the 190ft tower and spire of Christ Church, the tallest building in the town when its foundation stone was laid in June 1894. It was completed by the end of the year at a cost of 3,500.

Mark Harvey pays tribute to pre-war borough engineer Sydney Little the Concrete King whose vision gave Hastings seafront the worlds first underground car park, opened in 1936 by Transport Minister Hoare-Belisha.

Littles ambitious Olympic-size swimming pool of 1933 was less enduring, demolished in 1988.
Mike Bacon

Brighton Through Time: A Second Selection

by Judy Middleton

(Amberley Publishing; 14.99)

At last nostalgia in glorious technicolor! Hove-based historian Judy Middleton presents a second helping of vintage Brighton images
in this nostalgic series from Amberley Publishing, comparing the seaside resorts rich past with its vibrant present.

The copious reproductions of period colour pictures are a distinct bonus. But while the hand-colourists efforts may appear a little over-enthusiastic in places, they certainly bring these old postcards to life, providing a fairer comparison with the modern digital photographs published alongside, even though the two are separated by a century.

Well-known landmarks such as seafront hotels, piers and the Royal Pavilion are presented beside rarer glimpses of long-lost churches and businesses. It seems strange to see trams trundling around the Old Steine, but they look positively state-of-the-art alongside pictures of horse-drawn mail coaches.

Rob Maile

Portrait of Village Life: Beeding, Bramber and Botolphs in Sussex

by Keith Nethercoat-Bryant (collated and edited by Peter Thorogood)

(The Bramber Press, 15)

Available from Steyning Bookshop or

What a debt we owe to local historians whose commitment and curiosity inspire them to record the past and unfolding life of their communities. In a sense, they all contribute one square of a patchwork quilt which serves as the detailed social history of our country.

The villages of Beeding, Bramber and Botolphs are particularly well served by Keith Nethercoate-Bryant, who researched and recorded life in these communities for a very long time and wrote a monthly local history article in the parish magazine for 20 years.

Now author and social historian Peter Thorogood, who restored the lovely 600-year-old St Marys House in Bramber, has edited these articles and added a wonderfully full index and a wealth of fascinating illustrations. It creates, as he says, a vivid picture of a vibrant community and the people who made it.
Freddie Lawrence

Literary round-up

Heres a round-up of forthcoming literary news and events taking place in Sussex this March:

QueenSpark Books in Brighton is celebrating its 40th anniversary as the oldest community-run publisher in the country this year by creating a graphic novel inspired by the history of Brighton and Hove. It is inviting local people of all ages to submit ideas based on any aspect of the citys history, landscape, buildings or people.

To enter, simply register as a new user on the QueenSpark website
( and upload an idea or story of no more than 2,000 words by February 28. Visitors to the site will be able to see the entries.

The publisher is also looking for eight volunteers to shape the stories and text for the novel, and they will be mentored by Tim Pilcher, co-founder of the Comic Book Alliance. Those interested, should email, explaining why they wish to get involved and linking to their submitted work elsewhere on the site.

Writer James Russell, author of Eric Ravilious: A Travelling Artist, the final instalment in the Ravilious in Pictures series published by Mainstone Press, will be discussing the work of the Sussex-bred artist at Alfriston Village Hall on March 27 at 7pm. Tickets, priced 10, can be obtained from the organisers, Much Ado Books, by emailing

Meanwhile, the bookshop is delighted to report that it raised more than 1,800 through the sale of hand-crafted Christmas stockings in December, which has paid for much-needed new books for the library at Alfriston Village School. At the time of going to press, the books, chosen by parents, teachers, pupils and the bookshop, were due to be presented by the proprietors, Cate Olson and Nash Robbins, at a special ceremony at the school. Special guests were to include Lewes MP Norman Baker and Sussex-based writing and illustrating duo Ronda and David Armitage, the brains behind the popular Lighthouse Keeper books for children.

The next Lewes Book Fair will be held at Lewes Town Hall on March 17 between 10am and 4pm. More than 40 secondhand book dealers will be selling a wide range of titles, including vintage childrens books, modern first editions, topography, crime fiction and antiquarian and collectable books. The event will help support the Paws and Claws Cat Rescue Service in Sayers Common, West Sussex. Admission is 50p, though anybody bringing this page from Sussex Life will get in free. Refreshments will be available. Lewes Book Fairs will also be held on May 19, August 4 and October 13.

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