Nights Out in Cosmopolitan London

Judith R. Walkowitz


In the years up to World War Two, Soho was transformed from a dark proletarian quarter into a mecca of shopping, restaurants and night-life entertainments. Judith Walkowitz looked at the particular contribution of Jews “up West”, from the schleppers of Berwick Street market to the tailors of Savile Row and the musicians of Lyons Corner Houses.

In a conversation with social historian Jerry White about her book Nights Out Life in Cosmopolitan London, Walkowitz brought to life a host of unforgettable characters, revealing how Soho became a showcase for London’s new cosmopolitan identity.

Indulgences for the privileged and upwardly mobile edged a dangerous transgressive space that was imagined to be “outside” the nation. East End Jewish girls went up West for a night dancing at the Astoria ballroom, or met at a Lyons Corner House for a meal serenaded by Jewish musicians from eastern Europe.

Judith R. Walkowitz

Judith R. Walkowitz is professor of history at John Hopkins University and a pioneer in the fields of British cultural history, urban studies and women’s history. The author of City of Dreadful Delights: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London (1992) she lives in New York.

Jerry White

Jerry White is Professor in History at Birkbeck, University of London and author of many books of London history including 2001 Wolfson History Prize winner London in the Twentieth Century: A City and Its People and London in the Eighteenth Century. A Great and Monstrous Thing.