Top Left: Front and back covers of 1971 edition. Top Right: Front and back covers of 1972 edition. Bottom: Front and back covers of 1974 edition, published in conjunction with Wildwood House. It would be interesting to know who all of the people on the back cover are.
Knock on the door Sunday afternoon and it was Nick at the door with a carrier bag containing three copies of Alternative London, which once belonged to his brother.
One of the bibles of the underground culture in the 1970s, Alternative London was originated and produced by the remarkable Nicholas Saunders (bottom left in the last picture).
See PREVIOUS POST: ALTERNATIVE SOCIETY 1970s: Nicholas Saunders, an obituary by Flora Maxwell Stuart in The Independent
Nicholas Albery (1948-2001) was his friend and collaborator. See PREVIOUS POST: ALTERNATIVE SOCIETY 1970s: FEEDBACK to access a range of links that connect these two men. Both died in car accidents.
These editions and others in more detail:
First edition: published 1 December 1970
Alternative London was featured as one of a series of articles on Book Covers in the Financial Times. The article was by Edwin Heathcote (pub 13th Dec 2010). He claims the image on the left is the cover of the first edition. The image on the right, listed in Flickr as being the same edition, is the back cover.
The first page reads: This book is packed with information on how to get the most out of London for the least money….It tells you how to survive –then thrive…It doesn’t push a way of life but gives access to ways of expressing your individuality in a sincere way.’
A few pages later it records that 148 people sent in suggestions and they were all sent a free copy. Saunders says: ‘This book is not written from theory, nor is it an outside observer’s view. The law, organisations and activities are described the way we experience them – not how they should be or would like to be.’
This has Alternative London on smaller type, the main title being ‘Survival Guide for Strangers’. In this edition, Nicholas Saunders has Georgie Downes credited as his Assistant. He defines the work as follows:
‘The book is for young people coming to London who want to take part in the new culture rather than to be the observers of tourist attractions. Its by the young people who produce Alternative London – so its not theoretical but a practical guide to avoiding the pitfalls and how tto get out of them. We haven’t tried to be comprehensive, but have selected a few of the best and cheapest things – a lot are free. Nor have we glamorised London. This is as you find it.’
This edition was put together by a team who form the bottom row in the picture. They are, from right to left:
Nicholas Saunders (writer & editor); Jenny Potter (research and checking), Roger Hall (layout and paste-up), Nicholas Lumsden (IBM typesetting), Tammy Cole (diagrammatic illustrations); Malcolm Carter (title pages and cover).
This edition also gives the sales (or print-runs) of the various editions: First Edition/50,000 copies; Second Edition/52,300 copies; Third edition/ 50,000 copies; Fourth Edition/38,000 copies.
The cover has an unusual credit: ‘Cover design by Marilyn, stitched by Kaye.’This edition is essentially the same as the previous one but with an Appendix which contains a substantial number of updates and changes, work carried out by Steve Barron. [Thanks to Dave for ferreting out his old copy]
This is the cover of the 1982 edition from Amazon. It is listed as the 6th Edition, published by Otherwise Press. The credits read Nicholas Saunders (author), Georganne Downes (Editor), Kathy Holme (Editor), Max Handley (Editor)
There is not a great deal on the Internet about Alternative London. Here are a couple:
Alternative London is one of the best books of all time on CharlotteCooper.net
Saunders also travelled the country to produce Alternative England and Wales, a large-format volume of 368 pp, which he published himself in Hardcover on 7th July 1975. A paperback version appeared in September that year.
He also authored (and self-published) E for Ecstasy with Liz Heron, illustrated by Ginny Wade (April 1993), Ecstasy and the Dance Culture ( Sept 1995), Ecstasy: Dance, Trance and Transformation, with Rick Doblin (1996) and Ecstasy Reconsidered (April 1997)