All three authors were such youthful ‘outsiders’ wanting in. Colin Wilson came from Leicester, the drab industrial midlands; Laura Del-Rivo from Cheam in the stuffy stockbroker belt of Surrey. Only Terry Taylor is an actual Londoner, born in Kilburn – but, in the persona of his novel’s 16-year-old protagonist, he breaks down the sprawling metropolis to its crucial hepcat constituency. The spark that crackles through all three books is the yearning for change and difference, of finding a way of living in the centre of all happening without resorting to the drudge of work – by far the biggest fault line in this generation was the one that opened up between the baby-boomers and their parents.
Cathi Unsworth takes a trip with New London Editions’ ‘Beats, bums and bohemians’ reissue series of novels.