This month sees the publication in book form of essays on Vauxhall Gardens written by the historian David E. Coke and first published on vauxhallhistory.org, the history arm of The Vauxhall Society.
David is co-author with Alan Borg of the monumental Vauxhall Gardens: A History (2011). One of the most painful aspects of preparing that book, David tells us, was to edit it down to a manageable size. That meant leaving out many fascinating topics and stories. This sequel, Six Essays on Vauxhall Gardens, was conceived partly to expand coverage of subjects only mentioned in Vauxhall Gardens: A History, partly to explore subjects that the book had to lose altogether, or subjects revealed by subsequent research.
Six Essays on Vauxhall Gardens is now available to order from bookshops or from Amazon. A Kindle version will be on sale from 1 March 2022.
David E. Coke on Six Essays on Vauxhall Gardens
This new book aims to highlight some of the stories about the people involved at Vauxhall Gardens, stories that were omitted from previous publications, or that have come to light since. Because Vauxhall encompassed such a wide range of activities and pursuits, and involved so many people, every story is different and every one has its place in history.
Vauxhall’s success was entirely down to the creative relationship between the proprietors and staff, the designers and performers and the visitors. In this book, children and the neighbouring population make their appearance, but here too are the eccentric Master of Ceremonies C.H. Simpson, and the pioneering balloonist Charles Green. It was figures like this, and the Vauxhall they produced, that inspired Thackeray and Dickens, Rowlandson and Cruikshank, and even the poets William Wordsworth and John Keats to produce some of their most seminal and revolutionary works, now considered masterpieces of British culture.
Since 2011, when Vauxhall Gardens: A History was published, historians have now begun to take the pleasure gardens seriously, as a significant element in the culture of the time. This will lead to all sorts of interesting new discoveries, and to a proper reinstatement of Vauxhall Gardens as the focus not merely of amorous adventures, but of enlightened arts patronage, of technological innovation, of social cohesion, and of many aspects of public leisure and entertainment that still survive in the twenty-first century. Part of the purpose of this book is to shine a new spotlight on Vauxhall’s people and on what they achieved both as individuals and as part of the wider development of London’s cultural history, and its progress into the modern world.
SIX ESSAYS ON VAUXHALL GARDENS
by David E. Coke
Published January 2022 by Caret Press in association with The Vauxhall Society
Paperback £14.99 118 pages, 50 colour illustrations
Available to order through bookshops and from Amazon
Kindle ebook £9.99 released 1 March 2022