East End My Cradle is a classic, still as fresh, vivid and compulsively readable as when Willy Goldman first penned it seventy years ago. This remarkable book was written with first-hand kwledge of both the East End and its diverse range of impoverished and tough characters. Goldman describes the years of childhood and adolescence through to young adulthood spent around the streets and back lanes of the East End and its dance and boxing halls, tenements and alleyways, peppered with petty crime and prostitution. This is a truly vibrant account of a young life, in a world as joyful and boisterous as it was harsh and unforgiving.
Willy Goldman was born in 1910 in Stepney, East London to a recently-arrived Russian-Romanian Jewish family. He was the second of eight children from two marriages for his father, who insisted that he leave school at 14 to begin work in a tailoring sweatshop. He continued to educate himself in Whitechapel library and took to writing short fiction in the early 1930s, enjoying early support from the Left Review and New Writing. He continued to write until the 1950s, when he moved to rural Somerset. He married three times and died in April 2009.