Tuesday 10 May 2011

Welcome to Grub Street

Hello there.

My name is Adam Stevenson and I am the Grub Street Lodger. 

Grub Street was a street in London. Originally it was a street of bowyers and fletchers - makers of bows and arrows for people to use as they practiced on the nearby Moorfields. As archery became a less common hobby, the houses fell in disrepair and were snapped up by gamblers, non-conformist preachers and, worst of all, writers.

It may have been that Foxe's English Martyrs was written on Grub Street, but by the end of the Seventeenth century it was synonymous with hack writers and ephemeral material. This was a time when literacy had exploded in the capital and the coffee shops were insatiable for material to talk about, and the hacks were more than happy to provide - songs, poems, panegyrics, articles, essays all flowed out of Grub Street and into surrounding London, picked up, praised and talked about one day - toilet paper the next.

The Distressed Poet

By the middle of the century, Hogarth is drawing a poor Grub Street hack in his picture The Distressed Poet, Pope is calling it the Parnassus, the very temple, of 'dulness' and Samuel Johnson uses the word 'grubstreet' to describe "any mean production" of letters. 

Grub Street grew into something of a legend; the legend of the antisocial, dishevelled writer, churning out words from his draughty attic roof and quivering at every knock on the door in case it's the bailiffs. Which is where the concept of Grub Street links very well with today.

Me in a ratty garrett.

Because, as well as being a huge fan of the Eighteenth Century, particularly the energetic urban culture that existed in London, I am also attempting to make my way as a writer. This blog attempts to unite those two interests and provide an outlet for anything else that may come along.

So, welcome to the neighbourhood, please pop by again.


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