Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher

I acquired a handsome copy of Geoffrey Fletcher’s City Sights at the weekend, which has made me curious about exactly who he was and his life. The answer is that he studied at the Slade just after the war and was then a Rome Scholar in 1948. The UCL Art Museum has a painting by him dated 1945 entitled The Paying Guest, which already shows his taste for low life. In the 1950s, he contributed drawings to the Manchester Guardian and, in 1958, drawings of London to the Daily Telegraph in a column called ‘London Day by Day’. His reputation as a writer and illustrator was made by the publication of The London Nobody Knows in 1962. I’ve discovered that I’ve got two copies of the paperback, the first, published in 1965 for 6/-. It is an exploration of what he describes as ‘the crummier areas’ of London. ‘This, then, is the obscure, hardly-to-be-thought-of city; the London, very largely, of the hot August pavement and the pleasures of the mean, interminable streets’. I owe him a debt of gratitude because he first introduced me to Limehouse and Stepney Green. The book was made into a film starring James Mason in 1967. What happened to him later in his life is not clear except that there were exhibitions of his work in northern cities, including, Manchester, Oldham and Blackpool and his work is extremely well represented in British public collections. He died in 2004 and his archive is held by Islington Public Library.


2 thoughts on “Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher

  1. We found the James Mason film on Youtube and watched it last night (via our Smart TV) with great enjoyment. That led to the discovery of another James Mason documentary he made about his home town of Huddersfield which is also my home town. So, as I was totally unaware of it, many thanks for that happy coincidence. It was quite amazing to see Huddersfield through his eyes in the 60s – quite a different view from my own as a child, apart from the remarkable amount of music which the town has always been known for.

  2. Stephen Beckett-Doyle says:

    I found Fletcher’s libertarian nihilism very interesting. I read his ‘Down Among the Meths Men’ (1966) a few years ago. He did many sketches of dossers and suggests that the Meths Men were on the outer fringe of real freedom that they had made an absolute life choice, somehow struck out on a journey of self-destruction that paradoxically sets them free.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s