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The Partisan Coffee House: Cultural Politics and the Early New Left

A look at the Partisan Coffee House, the spiritual home of the New Left.

The brainchild of Raphael Samuel, a young radical historian, the Partisan Coffee House was the spiritual home of the New Left. With a menu that included Borscht, Viennese coffee and 'Whitechapel cheesecake', the Partisan Coffee House was an attempt to recreate the culture of a left wing Mitteleuropa café in the centre of trendy Soho. It was known as 'London's first anti-espresso bar'.

Closely linked with the radical journal, Universities and Left Review, the intellectual life of the Partisan embraced all the burning political and cultural issues of the day: from Khrushev's secret speech, the Hungarian Uprising and the Suez Invasion to the foundation of CND. In its short existence the Partisan staged debates, film screenings, art exhibitions and music nights which drew in some of the leading intellectuals and artists of the late 1950s including John Berger, Doris Lessing, Lindsey Anderson, and Karel Reisz. This talk, based on a series of interviews with surviving participants, recounts the fascinating story of this short lived but highly influential cultural institution.

Speaker Mike Berlin teaches history at Birkbeck College, University of London. His specialism is the social history of London.


Mike Berlin | talks


Date and Time:

11 June 2009 at 7:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Bishopsgate Institute
230 Bishopsgate
020 7392 9200

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£7, conc. £5; advance booking required

Available from:

Call 020 7392 9220 between 9.30am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday or search for Bishopsgate Institute on www.WeGotTickets.com

Additional Information:

Bishopsgate Institute is two minutes walk from Liverpool Street station.

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