Aleister crowley

What a greasy spoon in West London tells us about the threat of nuclear war

All-day diners feasting on the full English, the cheese omelette or the celebrated sausage sandwich (£3.80) at George’s Café, at 36 Blythe Road, Hammersmith, probably don’t realise they are dining at an address which is pivotal in global cultural history. So pivotal, in fact, that it might just tell us whether human civilisation is about to be extinguished in a nuclear holocaust. A claim like that needs fleshing out. Here it is. Some 120 years ago, 36 Blythe Road was living a very different life to that of a humdrum suburban greasy spoon: it was the headquarters and archival nerve centre of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a fin

Forgotten books worth rediscovering

Most readers have favourite books or authors they feel have been either forgotten or unjustly neglected. R.B. Russell, an assiduous book collector, did something practical about this when in 1990 he co-founded the Tartarus Press in order to bring the works of the once popular Arthur Machen back into print. Machen’s particular speciality was ‘weird fiction’, novels and stories that inhabit the borderland of this and other worlds, and Tartarus went on to reissue other authors in this genre, notably Robert Aickman and Sarban (otherwise the British diplomat John William Wall), as well as to publish new writers and a handful of classics. Fifty Forgotten Books inevitably includes a number

Nina Hamnett’s art was every bit as riveting as her life

Nina Hamnett is in vogue again. She is the subject of a new pocket biography, no. 7 in Eiderdown Books’s Modern Women Artists series, and her first ever retrospective is now open at Charleston Farmhouse’s gallery space. I confess I didn’t know much about her before this resurrection, but she is now one of my favourite 20th-century artists. In this bucolic gallery space, where cows can be heard bellowing, her portraits are at last hanging together, like a cocktail party finally regrouped. The colours are subtle, beautiful without being decorative; as the co-curator Alicia Foster explains, Hamnett’s use of colour is ‘meaningful, incisive’. Her circus paintings are thick with atmosphere,