11 June 2024

Literary Escapism in the Heart of Brick Lane

Brick Lane, in the heart of vibrant Shoreditch, never fails to entice visitors with its eclectic mix of vintage markets, street art, and curry houses. Many are also drawn to the charming Brick Lane Bookshop. This little independent bookshop, established in 1978, has the motto “Our history is a history of a community.”

Originally part of the Tower Hamlets Project, it championed homegrown creativity in Shoreditch. The founders of the bookshop backed the many talented artists in the area. Funded by Thames Television, the Project celebrated its achievements in 1977 with a month-long ‘Big Show’ at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. An exciting melange of East End poets, Stepney filmmakers, improvised theatre shows and messy experiments in silkscreen printing, the show was a hit. Not least because of its quirky bookstall that had a constant stream of customers. It sold a range of home-made materials produced on inky Roneo printers and school photocopiers. Transforming the following month into a successful bookshop, it became the pride of Brick Lane.

And it still is! The bookshop has a gorgeous warm atmosphere, and offers a wonderful selection of books about the local area. You must pop in, if only to marvel at some of the excellent photographic books published by Hoxton Mini Press.

The Brick Lane Bookshop has also established the Short Story Prize, launched in 2019. It promotes literature that reflects the new, exciting and diverse voices in the East End today. Winners of the competition will find their work published in an anthology of the twelve longlisted stories.

So, head to the stellar Brick Lane Bookshop, and peruse the impressive range of books on its shelves. This is a veritable sanctuary for bargain hunters and anyone interested in the history of Shoreditch. The bookshop proudly states on its website that it has seen “five decades of creativity, protest and collaboration.”

Brick Lane Bookshop can be found at 166 Brick Ln, London E1 6RU

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