A-Z Of Brighton and Hove
An Alphabetical Attraction to Brighton
Kevin Newman talks about his latest book, which he argues we need more than ever in the “Terrible Twenties”.
Brighton and Hove when combined are Sussex’s largest settlement, and the larger of our county’s two cities, so it is not surprising that readers aren’t exactly short of books about the city and its past. So, why do need another book on the ‘Old Ocean’s Bauble’ as Brighton was once described?
Lockdown is one reason, according to author of Amberley Publishing’s A-Z of Brighton and Hove, Brighton-born Kevin Newman. “When we were told we could only have one hour’s exercise a day, people that never usually went on walks widely decided they would now take them daily; it was their right. So you now have lots of people who’ve explored bits of Brighton and Hove they never knew existed on walks and want to find out more, and other Sussexians who’ve got the bug for exploring and learning and need inspiration for new walks. Hopefully the book caters for both.” Kevin also quotes the character Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, who said: “Sussex, when all was said and done, was not like other counties.” “If that is true,” he argues, “then it is equally true that that Brighton and Hove is not like the rest of the county, and so its uniqueness always makes it worthy of another look.”
The book is unusual too as it takes the reader on a selective tour of the past of Britain’s premier coastal resort in alphabetical order. A-Z of Brighton and Hove delves into the stories behind the city’s most notable streets, places, parks and buildings, as well as the dark secrets of its inhabitants, lesser-known lanes and twittens, such as Queensbury Mews, home to Brighton’s smallest pub. The book reveals the stories behind some of the more unusual visitors to the city such as Sheena the camel who nearly ruined one of our first ever major conferences. Also here are tales of the town’s less-famous daughters and sons such as the wonderfully-named Chief Constable D’eath. “There was no way I could hope to emulate Tim Carder’s wonderful Encyclopaedia of Brighton and its early 21st century successor, but I hope my book provides something for everyone, whether visiting or a citizen of the city.”
“There is always more to discover about Brighton and Hove”, says Kevin “and in these ‘terrible ‘twenties’ we need the tonic of reading about such a happy city.” Indeed, the book tells how Brighton was recently voted the most popular British seaside destination on the list of 30 locations people considered ‘happy places’. Beating Padstow in Cornwall, the sandy beaches of the Hebrides, St Ives, and northern rival Blackpool. The book is full of quirky snippets including that more than one in ten people from Brighton said it also was their favourite holiday location, which suggests Brightonians therefore even feel on holiday in the place they live in (or as the book suggests, they’re confused about the concept of a ‘holiday’).
The book argues Brighton and Hove is a city of achievements, accomplishments and firsts in times of peace or war. Not all of them are positive, of course. We read that the first man ever to die in a car crash sadly came from Brighton, that it was also where the first Allied soldier to fire shots in the First World War was from but, more happily, the man who sent the telegram to end that conflict was from Hove.
Kevin has no plans to end his writing about his home town either, with Celebrating Brighton and Hove following next year and this November his first published novel, Beef Every Day But No Latin from the Real Press telling the true story of Hove schoolboy James Bernard Clifton who set up the Claremont School in Hove – at the age of 11.
A-Z of Brighton and Hove is on sale in bookshops and online, RRP £14.99. All-Inclusive History also provides online and actual talks based on the book and a walking tour of Brighton, lockdown permitting. Email email@example.com or call 07504 863867 to book.