Saturday, 23 February 2013

Fitzroy Tavern, Charlotte Street, London

The Fitzroy Tavern is a public house situated at 16 Charlotte Street in the Fitzrovia district of central London, England, to which it gives its name. It is currently owned by the Samuel Smith Brewery. It became famous during a period spanning the 1920s to the mid 1950s as a meeting place for many of London's artists, intellectuals and bohemians such as Dylan Thomas, Augustus John, and George Orwell. It is named either directly or indirectly after the Fitzroy family, Dukes of Grafton, who owned much of the land on which Fitzrovia was built. Read more on Wikipedia.

The tavern was manged by in the early years of the 20th century, Judah Morris Kleinfeld, a [Savile Row]? tailor and naturalised British citizen originally from Polish Russia, decided that he wanted to become a pub licensee, and started the work of persuading the brewery that owned the Hundred Marks, Hoare & Co., that he was the man for the job. the  History of Fitzroy Tavern

Lowry refers to the Fitzroy in Chapter 6 of his novel Under The Volcano; "No, the idea was to camp outside a pub down a back alley, and that not any pub, but the Fitzroy Tavern in Charlotte Street, chock full of starving artists drinking themselves to death simply because their souls pined away, each night between eight and ten, for lack of just such a thing as a hot dog. That  was the place to go!" (Pg. 156) and "And--not even the hot-dog man was the answer; even though by Christmas time,obviously, he had been doing a roaring trade outside the Fitzroy." (Pg. 156)

Lowry frequented the Fitzroy Tavern during his time in London between 1931 and 1933. (See Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pgs. 140-41). Lowry refers to a brawl at the tavern in a letter to Conrad Aiken dated Summer/Autumn 1932; "I would have written you before this only I got beaten up in an Ulyssean brawl near Kleinfelds' in Charlotte street the first night of my arrival..." (Collected Letters Vol 1 Pg. 81). The fight occurred while Lowry was staying with John Davenport in London when they started a fight with a group of Welsh miners. (Bowker Pg. 118). Paul Ferris records that Lowry met Dylan Thomas at the Fitzroy in July 1933 on Thomas's second ever visit to London (Dylan Thomas Pg. 166).

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