Some quotes from readers of the JOURNAL
It's really very good and brought back a lot of memories. It's a very vivid depiction of student life in West London just before the 'swinging' time.
David Hockney - Artist
A remarkable book: a brilliant record of life over five years, excellently written and full of inspired attention to detail.
Kate Pemberton - Ambit Magazine
Fascinating - there is a marvellous sense of suspended time and the combination of youthful pronouncements and anxieties, with the contemporary news commentaries, is winning.
Liz Calder: Bloomsbury
Kate Paul's Journal is a treasure trove for any historian interested in the ways in which British culture and society changed during the 1950s and 1960s. Few archives so accurately and poignantly capture this country's miraculous transition from austere greyness to the multicoloured world of 'swinging' pop.
Dr Alex Seago: author of Burning the Box of Beautiful Things: The Development of a Postmodern Sensibility (Oxford University Press)
I read the Journal straight through and was transported through the years. It has an urgency, a determination, a willingness to tell the truth and avoid cant: it is critical of self, family, society, God. Of course it contains inconsistencies and contradictions but at the age at which it was written which of us did otherwise? - supposing, that is, we were given to any reflective thought at all.
Laurie Fricker - Associate: University of Portsmouth
This is the best diary of student life of its time.
Christopher Handley, bibliographer/bookseller
Sitting in the candlelit gloom of The Troubadour, watching the passing show of personalities, many to make their mark in later years - Kate Paul, with her hilarious sense of humour, at the same time broodingly recording her progress to self-awareness and making a document that so recalled that peculiarly vivid time - the early Sixties. Read it!
Josh Kirby - Painter and Cover artist for Discworld
Reading the Journal was an emotional experience. I found a great resonance with my own experience as a young woman in the 60s, struggling to find an identity in the art world: the difficulty of reconciling one's sense of what it was to be a woman with a full identity as a thinking, critical, creative person. The Journal gives a fascinating insight into some of these tensions. The writing of such an extensive, intense, thoughtful and honest document at such a young age is impressive and significant in its own right.
Sue Watling - Lecturer, Somerset College of Art
I liked the Journal a lot and found myself sniggering sympathetically.
Julie Christie: actress and Human Rights campaigner
Those of similar age to Paul who lived through the 50s and 60s in Britain will find Journal a fascinating reminder of the social life and concerns of the period: the constant fear of nuclear war, racial prejudice against black people, the arguments about the abolition of capital punishment, and so on. Like many art students, Paul was radical: she supported CND and sexual liberation, she dated black men and befriended homosexuals. Younger readers may also be amused by the quaintness of the past. Not only was Paul once ordered by an art school tutor to cut her hair (it was shoulder length) but she was also ejected from a cafe because her knees were exposed! Visiting the Labour Exchange in St Ives, Paul records that the officials disliked artists intensely and thought they had 'defiled' the fishing port.
Normally what gets published and read are the journals and biographies of people who are famous for their achievements in some sphere or other. Paul's Journal demonstrates that anyone's lived experience - if recorded with truth, perception and insight - can be of value and interest to others. I for one would like to learn more about her life since the final entries in Journal which record the news of the killing of President Kennedy in November 1963.
From a review by John A Walker, Writer and Reader in Art and Design History at Middlesex University, for ART MONTHLY.
Art student Kate Paul’s Journal, 1958-1963, is full of the frustrations of provincial life, perpetual poverty, unrequited love and anger at the state of the world when nuclear war seemed imminent. The fascinating trivia of a young woman’s life - dying her stockings black and her hair blonde - her anguish at not being at the Aldermaston March and, at a time when the evil of apartheid was at his height, fear that the police would catch up with her for chalking Free Africa on a Taunton wall in protest. Unrequited love for the young Pop painter, Derek Boshier, portraits of friends and her great passion, literature. Journals are usually a pretty compelling read. That this one was written by an intelligent and passionate young woman at such a pivotal time makes it even more so. If you were there then reading this Journal is a must. If not, then read it to find out about the kind of people who had such an influence on the second half of the twentieth century.
Review: Sarah Jackman.
The diaries of Kate Paul...detailed day by day by a West Country art student almost always on her uppers and in conflict with her (through the tragic death of her soldier father) single mother. The author admits to an admiration of the diaries of W N P Barbellion, surely one of the least engaging of English diarists and what is certain is that both their situations, involving tedium, frustration, monotony and self-doubt were psychologically similar. Kate Paul’s diaries are by far the better. She happens to have met, known and liked a great many young painters who subsequently have hit the national headlines. This gives the whole diary, dreary though much of it is, a unique 60s flavour. It has a perfect sense of truth and the result is that it gives the reader an almost continuous sense of depression. Yes, for in the sparkling and emancipated 60s there was a desperate undertow of extreme poverty, make-do and mend, parental opposition and sheer practical desperation which was attached to practically every art student of the time, and many more. This is not shirked, and in spite of it the Diaries of Kate Paul are memorable for the impressive amount of reading she managed to do and the sheer determination and vitality of her ideals. This diary, far more than W N P Barbellion’s, is an epoch-encapsulating rarity. It is the bottom layer of life in a time of fundamental change, a time when all our lives were in revision, the glamorous, but oh how unstable, uncertain, unformed 60s.
From a review by Patrick Reyntiens for IXION Magazine.
From the Introduction to the Journal
…Already having the sense of being an 'outsider', on entering the Art School I felt an immediate kinship with the other students and my life changed irrevocably. It was here that I met the painter, Derek Boshier, who at eighteen had just been accepted at the Royal College of Art...
...Amongst the rubbish littering the cupboards of the Art School I found an old, discarded ledger and felt compelled to write in it. Thus began the Journal, the original handwritten version eventually filling seven notebooks. It provides merely a glimpse of one particular young person's life, who, like many thousands more, felt uncertain and alienated, living with not only the threat but, as it seemed at the time, the imminent possibility of a nuclear war.
The first section of the Journal covers a period of two years spent at Somerset College of Art, in Taunton, where the painting tutor was Terry Murphy. He had been a contemporary of Peter Blake and Leon Kossoff at the Royal College of Art, at a time when Frank Auerbach, Bridget Riley and John Bratby were also studying there and John Minton was working as a part-time painting tutor. Through Terry Murphy I learned much about life at the RCA in the mid-Fifties, little knowing that I would subsequently become involved with many of its students.
The second section of the Journal covers the time when, having graduated from Somerset College of Art, I moved to London, working for a while as a chambermaid in an hotel in Cromwell Road, West London, and frequenting the celebrated Troubadour coffee - bar and the gay pub. The Coleherne, at night. Then to Birmingham on the Art Teachers' Course for a postgraduate degree, where I lived in the notorious Varna Road, Balsall Heath, then a red-light district where cock-fights were regularly held in the streets after dark.
Finally, the third section, the longed-for return to London. The year was 1961, the beginning of an extraordinary era, one of escalating protest - anti-nuclear weapons, anti-apartheid, anti-capital punishment - a time when old-fashioned attitudes were at least beginning to change, marking the emergence of a society that at least acknowledges the long overdue need to embrace the gay community, stamp out racism and further augment equality of the sexes.
At the same time there was a great surge of innovative creative energy emanating from the art schools in the wake of artists like Peter Blake, Joe Tilson and Bridget Riley: people like David Hockney, Derek Boshier, Peter Phillips, Pauline Boty, Zandra Rhodes, Sally Tuffin, Marion Foale, Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Bobi Bartlett and Janice Wainwright - linking Pop Artists, fashion designers and pop musicians and contributing to the emergence of a definable youth culture, epitomised by the vibrant, defiant optimism and excitement of the Sixties. The Journal ends in 1963, the year when the winter was so harsh that London froze for weeks on end and President John F Kennedy was assassinated.
Naturally, reading the Journal again after so many years, I longed to makes changes, extend the vocabulary and improve the style but I have resisted the temptation. It remains, as it was written, with all the arrogance, inconsistency, false assumption and rotten syntax of an eighteen year old at odds with the world.
Whether it has any validity is a matter for the reader. Besides the desire to record aspects of social history, diarists' compulsion to 'talk to themselves' is essential to their sanity, performing perhaps a function whereby they can decipher and assimilate the constant barrage of ideas and feelings with which they are bombarded, especially in late adolescence. And if one is feeling alienated or isolated there is, undoubtedly, a profound comfort in reading the thoughts of others who have felt the same way. At such times, through reading their journals and letters, I have felt a great affinity with the Russian painter, Marie Bashkirtseff, the naturalist and essayist, Barbellion, the painter, Carrington, and many others and I should, in turn, like to think that another struggling soul might find some solace in mine.
Non Fiction by Kate Clarke
All subsequent, unpublished volumes of JOURNAL are held at the Mass Observation Archive, Special Collections/Sussex University Library
Murder At The Priory: The Mysterious Poisoning of Charles Bravo
[with Bernard Taylor. Short-listed for the Crime Writers Gold Dagger Award]
Who Killed Simon Dale? and Other Murder Mysteries
[Covers the Baroness de Stempel murder case]
The Book of Hay
[Local history that includes account of the Major Herbert Armstrong murder case]
[Six London Murderesses]
In The Interests of Science;
Adelaide Bartlett and the Pimlico Poisoning
Murderous Maids, Devious Housekeepers and Butlers Who Kill
The A-Z of Victorian Crime
[with M.W.Oldridge, Neil R.A.Bell, Trevor N. Bond]
The Birkett Bronze
Shaking The Shumac Tree
Mystery at Moorstone Tower
Adventure at Moorstone Castle
The Secret of Moorstone Mill
Shadow on Moorstone Mountain
Rescue on Moorstone Ridge
Kookie and the Moorstone Kids