Laura Del-Rivo photographed this afternoon in her home 'manor' of W11. The occasion was the launch of her new book of short stories, Where is My Mask of an Honest Man?, described by her publishers as 'Tales of W11'.
Laura has lived round here most of her life. She still runs a stall on Portobello Market selling designer leggings and tights. The locality was the setting of her most renowned novel, The Furnished Room - first published in 1961 and recently republished by Five Leaves - which Michael Winner turned into a film, with the apt title 'West 11'.
I had a brief moment to chat to Laura. She was memorably photographed by Ida Kar, at the same time as Ida was taking portrait shots of Colin MacInnes and Bernard Kops. I assumed they all knew each other, and perhaps influenced each other - The Furnished Room, includes an account of organised racism in Notting Hill, a theme which loomed large in MacInnes's Absolute Beginners. But Laura said she never met MacInnes.
I asked about the model for Reg Wainwright, the Communist novelist in The Furnished Room. She said he was based on a type not a person. Her boyfriend at the time was in the CP Writers' Group, so she knew quite a few of that ilk.
But while Wainwright didn't have an earlier life, he had an after life. Laura told me that a Marxist novelist,John Comley [thanks for correcting me on the name, Colin!], named one of his characters Reg Wainwright in a nod to Del-Rivo's creation.
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