Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia
By Darren Coffield
The authorised history of London's most notorious drinking club
Publication date: Spring 2020Support this project
Michael Heath cartoon of the Colony Room Club
Colony Room Club 50th anniversary exhibition catalogue
Portrait of Joe Strummer of The Clash in the Colony Room Club
Original banquette material from the Colony
25 Signed Hardback Books
Portrait of John Deakin (after Lucian Freud)
Lost Bohemia special
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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This is an oral biography, consisting of previously unpublished and long-lost interviews with the characters who were central to the scene, giving the reader a flavour of what it was like to frequent The Club.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.
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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.
- 14th January 2020 BOOK LAUNCH: TALES FROM THE COLONY ROOM
SAVE THE DATE: 22nd April 2020, 6-9pm
EXHIBITION AND BOOK LAUNCH:
TALES FROM THE COLONY ROOM
Featuring: Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, John Deakin, Nina Hamnett, Isabel Rawsthorne, Daniel Farson, Harry Diamond, F N Souza, Sally Duxbury, Elinor Bellingham-Smith, Trog, George Melly, William Redgrave, Denis Wirth-Miller and many, many more...
2 Bathurst…30th October 2019 Tales from the Colony Room: Soho's Lost Bohemia
The title of the book has changed to : Tales from the Colony Room: Soho's Lost Bohemia
The design for the cover is being finalised next week. The book will be going to print soon.15th October 2019 LAST ORDERS AT THE COLONY ROOM CLUB
LAST ORDERS: This is the final chance to have your friend or loved one's name printed for posterity as a patron in the Tales from the Colony Room book. But hurry you only have until 20 October to take up the offer.5th March 2019 PROGRESS REPORT
Richard Collins, editor of Christopher Howse's Soho in the Eighties, has been hired to cast his critical eye over my manuscript for Tales from the Colony...
"It doesn’t need me to say it, but this is an outstanding compilation, a true social and artistic memoir of the richest kind, with moments of great sadness and absolute horror offset by those of extreme hilarity. Nostalgie de la boue indeed…17th January 2019 Progress report
Happy New Year!
The manuscript for Tales from the Colony was handed to the publisher before Christmas and I have spent the last two days looking at hundreds of photos of the club and its many members. I will be finalising the illustrations and sorting out the permissions for the book over the next couple of weeks.
Thank you once again for subscribing to the book.
Darren…9th November 2018 Manuscript submitted
Hi - Just finished the manuscript for the Colony book last night and emailed it off to the publisher.
As soon as we have finalised the manuscript I will let you know the publication date.
I am now making small caricature illustrations of the people featured in the book.
Darren25th October 2018 101% funded. Thank You!
A huge thank you to everyone who has pledged for Tales from The Colony. I am just completing the manuscript now and it will be sent off to the publishers in the next couple of weeks. I will keep you all updated concerning the book's progress and the various Colony events I have in the pipeline.
Darren Coffield5th September 2018 Last leg
Tales from the Colony is now 93% funded.
Thank you so much for your support!
If you know someone who might want to pledge and have their name published in the book as a patron there is still time.
Unfortunately once the book is 100% funded we cannot add anymore names as the book will be being published and distributed to retailers.
Darren9th July 2018 Tales from The Colony talk at Sohemian Society
Darren Coffield will be discussing, Tales from the Colony Room Club, from 7pm this Thursday at the Sohemian Society.
Venue: Sohemian Society, 1st floor, The Wheatsheaf, London W1T3rd July 2018 The third milestone
Tales from the Colony is now two thirds funded.
A huge thank you to everyone who has pledged their support.
Please continue to spread the word as it will be impossible to publish the book without your invaluable help.
You are quite literally making history happen!
Darren Coffield19th May 2018 Over the hill?
We have now passed the 50% mark. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported this unique and historic book. However we still need to raise another 46% to reach the target and publish the book. So please spread the word and forward the link to friends and family who I am sure will find the book of interest :
The book makes an ideal gift or present…
These people are helping to fund Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia.
Eileen Haring Woods