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The authorised history of London's most notorious drinking club

WARNING: This book contains strong language, sex, violence and extreme wit.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the closure of London’s infamous arts establishment, the Colony Room Club in Soho, former member Darren Coffield has written the authorised history of this notorious drinking club. It’s a hair-raising romp through the underbelly of the postwar arts scene. During its 60 year history more romances, more deaths, more horrors and more sex scandals took place in the Colony than anywhere else. And if they didn’t actually happen there, they were definitely planned there.

In a regimented and sexually repressed postwar London, the Colony attracted professional drinkers to a man, woman or something in-between, since sexual non-conformity always played its part in the mix. The Colony was heroically bohemian and was created by two dominant personalities – that of its owner, Muriel Belcher, and the artist Francis Bacon. Muriel was a combination of muse, mentor, critic and guru to those who gathered around her. The Colony brought together the confluences of talents that would help define postwar London and will be forever associated with the artistic circle of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

These ghastly English laws, you can’t have a drink, can’t do anything. Do you think they’ll ever change them?...I can take you up that awful Colony Room if you like. Francis Bacon

This is an oral biography, consisting of previously unpublished and long-lost interviews with the characters who were central to the scene, giving the reader a flavour of what it was like to frequent The Club.

With a glass in hand you’ll move through the decades listening to personal reminiscences, opinions and vitriol, from the authentic voices of those who were actually there. On your voyage through Soho’s lost bohemia, you’ll be served a drink by James Bond, sip champagne with Francis Bacon, queue for the loo with Christine Keeler, go racing with Jeffrey Bernard, get laid with Lucian Freud, kill time with Doctor Who, pick a fight with Frank Norman and pass out with Peter Langan. All with a stellar supporting cast including: Peter O’Toole, George Melly, Suggs, Lisa Stansfield, Dylan Thomas, Jay Landesman, Sarah Lucas, Damien Hirst and many, many more.

To book your place on this extraordinary and scandalous romp through the postwar Soho scene, make sure you pledge and pre-order your copy. 



Darren Coffield was born in London in 1969. He studied at Goldsmiths College, Camberwell School of Art and the Slade School of Art in London where he received his Bachelor of Fine Art in 1993. He has exhibited widely in the company of many leading artists including Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Patrick Caulfield and Gilbert and George at venues ranging from the Courtauld Institute, Somerset House to Voloshin Museum, Crimea. His work can be found in collections around the world. In 2003 his controversial portrait of Ivan Massow, former chairman of the ICA in full fox hunting costume, was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Portraits of George Galloway and Molly Parkin (NPG, 2010) followed, and most recently a depiction of former Miners Union leader Arthur Scargill made entirely from coal dust.

In the early nineties Coffield worked with Joshua Compston on the formation of Factual Nonsense - the centre of the emerging Young British Artists scene. A new book by Coffield about this period in British Art, Factual Nonsense: The Art and Death of Joshua Compston, was published by Troubador.

Coffield lives and works in London.

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