Blake 17
Join us at the National Liberal Club for a literary celebration of the spookiest season.

Real-life chills, a modern magus and ghost stories to freeze the blood. Paul Burston relates the personal horror story that inspired his new crime novel, The Closer I Get, biographer Phil Baker unravels the strange life and career of the occult artist Austin Osman Spare, poetopographer Niall McDevitt discusses the Gothic visions of William Blake, and Syd Moore, author of the Essex Witch Museum series of supernatural thrillers, reads one of her new ghost stories. Presided over by regular host, Suzi Feay. Shivers guaranteed!

Date And Time

Wed, 30 October 2019

19:00 – 22:00 GMT

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Lady Violet Room

National Liberal Club

Whitehall Place



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Details and tickets below.



Apologies for the unsolicited adverts! Aroint thee Satan etc

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LATITUDE: 51.5228 / 51°31’21″N LONGITUDE: -0.1244 / 0°7’27″W

LATITUDE: 51.5228 / 51°31’21″N
LONGITUDE: -0.1244 / 0°7’27″W








special guest


also featuring







Mon 11 Nov, The Horse Hospital, 
London WC1N 1JD

Doors. 7pm. Donation…. 

Photo: Julie Goldsmith


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And sixty-four thousand Genii, guard the Eastern Gate:
And sixty-four thousand Gnomes, guard the Northern Gate
And sixty-four thousand Nymphs, guard the Western Gate:
And sixty-four thousand Fairies, guard the Southern Gate:

– from Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion

Poet and walking artist Niall McDevitt in conjunction with New River Press has announced ‘A Month of Blake Walks’ – from 3 November to 1 December – to celebrate the renewed fascination with the poet-painter who is currently the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain.

The walking lectures will enable Blake enthusiasts and even experts to immerse themselves in the psychogeographocal landscape of one of England’s most singular and astonishing geniuses. The five-walk series will be as in-depth as a module at a top university, but affordable to anyone.

McDevitt, who studied English Literature at University College Dublin and has published three full collections of uncompromisingly countercultural poetry, is one of many contemporary artists in various mediums who identify as Blakeans. His first published poem ‘Off-Duty’ was part of a Poems on the Buses / Greenpeace series called ‘London – The Living City’. When the laminated poems were returned to their authors, the poets were taken by red bus on a mystery tour from the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden to St James’ Church in Piccadilly where William Blake had been baptised in 1757. The poets recited their poems at the beautiful marble baptismal font designed by Grinling Gibbons. Thus began McDevitt’s 20-year exploration of William Blake sites in the capital, and of the unique ‘Spiritual Fourfold’ philosophy woven into the poet-artist’s Illuminated Books.

McDevitt’s walks have been featured on BBC London, Radio 4’s The Poet of Albion, BBC 2’s television documentary series My Life in Verse, and have been favourably reviewed in International Times, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, The Idler and others.

Central: William Blake in W1

Sunday 3 Nov meeting at the junction of Oxford Street and South Molton Street. 1pm-3.30pm. £10

This walk takes us through much of the London timeline of William Blake, including the site of his birth as well as the one surviving Georgian townhouse where Blake actually lived.

McDevitt identifies – street by street – the places where Blake wrote Songs of Innocence, the C of E church where his non-conformist parents were forced to marry, and the Leicester Square scene of the honeymoon with his illiterate but beautiful wife Catherine. Blake reappears and disappears in the coffee shops, beauticians and bookies of today.

‘I write in South Molton Street what I both see and hear’.

East: A William Blake /Wat Tyler Walk

Sun 10 Nov meeting at the main entrance to the Savoy Hotel, off Strand. 1pm – 3.30pm. £10

This walk begins at the site of Blake’s much mythologised death in the disappeared street of Fountain Row and finishes at the site of Blake’s burial in the dissenters’ graveyard at Bunhill Fields.

En route it passes through historic sites associated with the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 and the Gordon Riots of 1780, the latter of which was the major popular insurgency of Blake’s lifetime.

Though Blake himself was caught up in the Gordon Riots more by accident than design, he was sympathetic to the idea of popular revolt and later drew a portrait of Wat Tyler as one of his ‘Visionary Heads’ series circa 1818.

‘Then Old Nobodaddy aloft / Farted and belched and coughed / And said I love hanging and drawing and quartering / Every bit as well as war and slaughtering’

South: A William Blake / Arthur Rimbaud Walk

Sun 17 Nov meeting at the southern side of Blackfriars Bridge. 1pm – 3.30pm. £10

This walk brilliantly combines an exploration of Arthur Rimbaud’s Waterloo alongside William Blake’s Lambeth, passing through the fragments of Georgian and Victorian London that still remain to bear witness.

Rimbaud lived in Waterloo in 1874, while Blake had been a longterm resident of North Lambeth from 1790-1800. Though it’s not known if Rimbaud had read or even heard of Blake, McDevitt offers a unique and plausible account of how he might easily have done so – as well as masterfully comparing Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell as apocalyptic prose poems.

‘As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity…’

North: William Blake and the Visionary Poets of Hampstead

Sun 24 Nov meeting at Hampstead tube station. 1pm – 3.30pm. £10

Though William Bake never lived in Hampstead, he had a lifelong association with the area and was even offered a rent free home there in his final years, which he agonisedly turned down.

McDevitt traces the exemplary friendship between Blake and his enlightened patron John Linnell, as well as discussing Blake in a pantheon of great mystical poets all of whom passed though Hampstead during the romantic and modernist eras.

This eco-immersive walk will finish with a stroll across the heath to find one of the least known but most intellectually historic homes in London, Wyldes Farm in North End.

‘Because I was happy upon the heath, / And smiled among the winter’s snow, / They clothed me in the clothes of death, / And taught me to sing the notes of woe.’

West: Jerusalem’s Pillars

Sun 1 Dec meeting under Marble Arch itself. 1pm-4pm.

As well as exploring the sites where Blake lived, worked and studied, the series also explores site that Blake mythologised in his poetry and art.

The single most important of those sites to the mature Blake was Tyburn, site of public executions from 1196-1783.

McDevitt also locates the fascinating site of his wife Catherine Blake’s widowhood and tells the horrifying story of what happened to Blake’s manuscripts and copperplates after her death.

The walk culminates at the bardic site of Primrose Hill with its wonderful monument to Blake’s conversation with ‘the Spiritual Sun’. En route McDevitt will try to pinpoint the visionary site of ‘Jerusalem’s pillars’, tracing it to a childhood memory of visiting The Jews Harp Tavern.

THE FIELDS from Islington to Marybone,
To Primrose Hill and Saint John’s Wood,
Were builded over with pillars of gold;
And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood.

Special concessionary rate of all five walks for the price of three: £30.


Fourfold Symmetries

Urizen Luvah Tharmas Urthona
Reason Emotion Sensation Energy
South East West North
Zenith Centre Circumference Nadir



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ETHER / Gang of Four

As an Irish, mostly political poet, I’d like to pay homage to an English work of art that has had a powerful  influence on my own artistic and political sensibility.
It is the opening track of an acknowledged masterpiece, ENTERTAINMENT! by Gang of Four.
The music is unique, sparse, raw, clean. Everything counts, every bang of the drum, every thrum of the bass, every chop of the guitar and blow of the melodica.
‘Ether’ is a risky opening track because it is so strange. The music slows down, the guitar clangs like church bells. and the melodica makes you feel like you’re sniffing petrol.
But the fact that it’s a protest song about Ireland is what makes it so edgy. It’s an Irish rebel song by an English band. The lyrics were co-authored by Andy Gill and Jon King and are co-sung, almost as a call-and-response in the ancient troubadour tradition.
Gang of Four lyrics in general are influenced by Situationism, but this track – it claims on Wikipedia – is about ‘special category status prisoners on Northern Ireland’.
The style of the writing mirrors the style of political slogans, chanted at the barricades.
‘Dirt behind the daydream’ is often the main point. English people go on with their daily lives unaware of the terrible realities of what historians dubbed The Dirty War and The Dirty Protest. The two voices reflect the parallel situations. Occupied Ireland. England with its own problems.

Individual lines such as ‘H Block torture’ and ‘fly the flag on foreign soil’ cut to the quick and immediately take the listener out of the zone of anything remotely resembling ‘entertainment’. The listener becomes a victim of torture, drugged on ether, forced to listen to white noise.

The denouement is brilliant, a single slogan which seems to ventriloquise the inexorable logic of the British government itself: 

there may be oil
under Rockall
It’s an anti-imperial artwork of the first order, visceral and conceptual. Play loud!
(Apologies for any adverts below. They’re obligatory. They don’t pay me. I’d have to pay WordPress for them not to appear.)
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Site of Kyd’s burial

Since words nor threates nor any other thinge 
    canne make you to avoyd this certaine ill
Weele cutte your throtes, in your temples praying
    Not paris massacre so much blood did spill..                                           
           Fly, Flye, & never returne.

per. Tamberlaine


The events of 1593 are uniquely awful in the history of English literature.

Though the year began well for Christopher Marlowe with a new play The Massacre at Paris debuting at The Rose, his nemesis was approaching.

Thomas Kyd, a former friend and roommate of Marlowe’s, author of the influential revenge drama The Spanish Tragedy, was enjoying his sixth year in service to an unknown aristocrat, possibly the Earl of Sussex or the Earl of Derby. He would soon lose his post, his reputation and his liberty.

Plague returned, shutting the London theatres, and natives were becoming increasingly resentful of the few thousand French, Belgian and Dutch immigrants who were resident in the city.

On May 5, a 53-line piece of racist doggerel was fixed on the door of the Dutch Church at Austin Friars. The unknown author signed it ‘Tamberlaine’.

This was to be the death warrant of the two greatest poet-playwrights before Shakespeare.

Poet, walking artist and psychohistorian Niall McDevitt tells the story of how the Elizabethan ‘police state’ tortured and – arguably – murdered Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe.

Sun 23 Jun meeting at Blackfriars station (north bank) at 2pm. The walk will last approximately two and a half hours. £10







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‘Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight
And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough’ – Dr Faustus


The death of Christopher Marlowe is one of the most fascinating if disturbing stories in the history of English literature, a tragedy more purgative than cathartic. Though Marlowe was murdered by government agents in a government safehouse in Deptford Strand, it was misrepresented as a pub brawl, a myth that persists to this day.

Join poet, walking artist and psychohistorian Niall McDevitt for a thoroughgoing exploration of the story, and immersion in Elizabethan history, with a stunning riverside backdrop.

We will begin at Island Gardens at the so-called ‘Omphalos’ of the Isle of Dogs; walk under the Thames – yes! – to Greenwich Palace; visit the site of Marlowe’s death and coroner’s inquest; and see his burial place in a pauper’s grave in Deptford Green.

We will finish by discussing the 1001 Marlowe conspiracy theories in a Wetherspoon pub in Surrey Quays – hopefully without any poets being murdered.

Meeting at Island Gardens DLR station 2pm. The walk will last three hours and finish at Surrey Quays London Overground station. £10.

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Image result for harry fainlight


Harry Fainlight was an unclassifiable poet who came to prominence in the Anglo-American counterculture of the 1960s but later became a casualty of the reactionary British culture of the 1970s.

That he was a lyric poet with an original gift makes his short unfinished oeuvre important, but that he was also voicing his experiences of Jewishness, homosexuality, drug-taking and mental illness guarantee him a future readership in many quarters.

Join poets, authors, editors and friends in this special tribute to Harry Fainlight’s life and work at the HORSE HOSPITAL.

With Jeremy Reed and the Ginger Light , Rob Dickins, Dave Tomlin, Su Rose, Patricia Scanlan, Phil Baker and Niall McDevitt

Thurs May 23 at the Horse Hospital, Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD
Door: 7pm. £5

Image of Harry Fainlight from Screen Test by Andy Warhol. 


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