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The old East End of London was a secret and dangerous place. How
much thieving and plotting, fighting and knifing and murdering,
went on there nobody ever knew or ever will know. The police, who
were treated as a common enemy, went about in threes. But towards
its own people it could be protective and sentimental. Above all,
it was alive, rich in its human texture. This was the private
world which Arthur Morrison--journalist, story-teller and
collector of Oriental paintings--made authentically his own.
/The Hole in the Wall/, which V. S. Pritchett described as "one of
the minor masterpieces of this century," is a thriller, or perhaps
more accurately a Dickensian murder story, set in the most
sinister part of London's dockland, about a hundred years ago.
Young Stephen Kemp goes to live with his grandfather, who keeps an
old inn--The Hole in the Wall--leaning crazily out over the river.
And it is through Stephen's eyes that we see the tale of villainy
and vengeance develop, and meet the strange but very human
What happens is exciting and dramatic, and described with the most
vivid artistry but it is the atmosphere--powerful and
unforgettable--which has made /The Hole in the Wall/ a classic.
The East End, as Arthur Morrison knew it, has gone, destroyed by
Hitler's bombers and post-war planners--but in these pages it
lives again, dark, evil, squalid, and yet a place which men and
women loved with a warmth quite missing from the London of tower
blocks and hygienic shopping centres.
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