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Money on’t Table – Grit, Work and Family Pride

 

This insightful and gripping book is published today. Here is an excerpt from the introduction by the author, Corinne Sweet:

“Nottinghamshire, 1930. A county in the Midlands, right in the centre of England, with a heavily industrialised city at its heart. Nottingham was known for its tightly-packed, soot-encrusted, red-brick back-to-back terraced houses; smoke curling over cooling towers, barges on canals, trams and buses cutting through cobbled streets. Narrow lanes led to industrial yards and huge factories, and teemed with street sellers, and horses and drays led by cloth-capped workers. People made their way around town on foot or pushing sit-up-and-beg bicycles.

When Money on’t Table begins, Nottingham was renowned for its manufacturing, and for three household names in particular: Boots the Chemist, Players cigarettes and Raleigh bicycles. There were other industries as well, names like Avery, Austin Reed and – in nearby Derby – Rolls-Royce. It was the heartland of England and chimed with national pride.

It has changed so much in today’s post-industrial world, but there are still some amazing older people in Nottingham who can speak about their lives and times working in the now disappeared factories. This the gritty stories in this book we follow the lives of Derek, Betty, Albert, Pauline, Dorreen and Bob, from 1928 to about 1960.

They have a lot in common: they all grew up in hardship. The toilet was at the bottom of the yard, they had no running water, no central heating or even electricity in some cases, and certainly no TV, phone or other mod cons. It was a time of deprivation and hard work – most left school at 13 or 14 to put money on the kitchen table. But it was also an era of community, of sharing and caring, and learning to make do on very little.

The men and women in this book were resilient and faced life with good humour, despite experience of challenging events such as war, disease, disability, inequality, poverty and the death of loved ones. Hearing their fascinating stories is to be brought into direct contact with a way of life in the city now forever gone.”

Corinne Sweet, from the introduction to Money on’t Table – Grit, Work and Family Pride

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A New Year Letter

2 January 2017

Dear September Authors and Supporters

Happy New Year! It seemed a good moment, in the quiet first days of the year, to update you and look ahead. 2016 was our second year of actual publishing (as opposed to commissioning and plotting) and it was wonderful to see books by Sharon Blackie, Angela Kiss, PJ Kavanagh, Emily Stott, Simon Phipps, Jim Richards, Howard Spencer and the English Heritage Blue Plaque team reach the public. We’ve seen authors on BBC Breakfast, featured in the Telegraph, the Guardian, Time Out, the Sun, the Evening Standard and we’ve listened to them on Midweek, Robert Elms and Start the Week amongst many others. Some big sales surges have come from these traditional press platforms, but just as many have come from online influencers, whether it’s blogs and communities like Spitalfields Life and Londonist, or authors and tweeters like Melissa Harrison, or organisations like the Twentieth Century Society.

We’ve worked with some wonderful new designers, including APFEL (Brutal London), Sandra Zellmer (The Secret Life of Ceramics) and Jamie Keenan (Gold Rush & Sharks), and collaborated with new editors and publicists, such as Justine Taylor, Ed Griffiths and Fiona Brownlee.

2017 will see a bigger list, with new illustrated and narrative titles. It’s an important year – our first titles will be distributed in the USA via Global Book Services. We will publish our first fiction – an anthology of ghost stories with English Heritage – and we have new books with comedian and activist Mark Thomas and investigative reporter Conor Woodman. We will also publish Christopher Nicholson’s (author of Elephant Keeper and Winter) first non-fiction title; an exquisitely written account of a summer spent in search of snow in the Scottish Highlands which we feel confident will become a classic of the nature writing genre. There is an extraordinary memoir of London’s Columbia Road, a story of mid-century Midlands’ lives and artist Alice Stevenson’s second book Ways to See Great Britain.

Last year was made more difficult by print price increases post-Brexit. It was made more daunting by the rise of reactionary, protective, xenophobic politics, and by a new US president interested only in commerce and the protection of wealth. But publishers – the interesting ones – fight against insularity by looking ahead, then finding articulate, enlightening writers and creatives who will chime with our concerns, interests and desires AND broaden them.

This year we will start a new project with an artist and writer based in Paris, born in Serbia, inspired by the wisdom of her friends. We’re inspired by Edna Adnan who founded a hospital and university in Somaliland on her retirement, cashing in her WHO pension and building
from scratch on unwanted, tainted land. And last but not least I’ve been energised by two young aspiring writers who were refugees in Lisbon and the UK, from Portuguese West Africa. There’s a lot to look forward to.

It’s such a rich, rich world, with such varied lives and ways of telling – and it’s a privilege to work within an intelligent industry with so many terrific people. So many thanks from Charlotte and I, and the larger September community, for your work and faith.

Hannah