Film-and-book nights: Black Spring Press presents, at the Society Film Club, Weird Weekends – Part I: The Lost Weekend, Part II: Withnail & I, and Julian Maclaren-Ross’s Bitten by the Tarantula.

Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NF, UK.

bsp logo

By Guy Sangster Adams

The highly regarded, and influential beyond their size independent publishers, Black Spring Press, whose catalogue includes, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Carolyn Cassady, Anaïs Nin, and Charles Baudelaire, continue to host the second Monday of each month at the Society Film club in true style. The programming for their nights features either films that are adaptations of the books from their catalogue, or films that adroitly complement their titles. Plus adding to the enjoyment the ticket price to their evenings also includes a copy of the relevant book.

the-lost-weekend film poster

The next two Black Spring Press events explore Weird Weekends. On Monday 18th April 2011, Weird Weekends Part I features Billy Wilder’s 1945 film, The Lost Weekend, starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman, and the novel of the same name from which the film was adapted, written by Charles R. Jackson and first published in 1944. The book which was a bestseller and the film which enjoyed great success at the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay, atmospherically capture life in the rundown neighbourhood of Manhattan, New York, USA, in the early 1930s and explores the five-day alcoholic binge of the protagonist, Birnham. The film broke new ground as it was the first mainstream screen portrayal of alcoholism, all the more surprising as Ray Milland, cast in the lead, was better known for lighter roles, and Wilder’s casting of him had raised some eyebrows.


Weird Weekends Part II, featuring the film, Withnail & I, and the collection of Julian Maclaren-Ross’s writings, Bitten by the Tarantula, follows on Monday 16th May 2011. Released in 1987, Bruce Robinson’s cult film, Withnail & I, is set in Camden, London in 1969, at that time a particularly rundown area, and follows two unemployed young actors, Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and I (Paul McGann), who fuelled almost entirely by alcohol, escape their squalid flat for a holiday in a remote country cottage in the Lake District belonging to Withnail’s flamboyantly gay Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths).


Julian Maclaren-Ross’s novella, Bitten by the Tarantula, contained within the Black Spring Press collection to which it gives its name, presents another sort of bizarre weekend: drugs, murder and bohemian excess on the French Riviera in the 1930s. This is not a setting or milieu for which Maclaren-Ross is well known, his most famous writings feature the London areas of Soho and Fitzrovia, and the English south coast, in the 1940s and 1950s, but he spent his early years on the French Riveria which informs the novella to great effect. The collection also includes a wealth of Maclaren-Ross’s other writings including fiction, non-fiction, film reviews, literary criticism, and literary parodies, and serves as a wonderful introduction to this fascinating writer.

bitten by the tarantula cover

The Society Film Club began earlier this year and takes place every Monday in the basement cinema of the Sanctum Soho Hotel in London. Black Spring Press schedules a film-and-book night at the Society once a month. Anyone can join, and until 14th April 2011, the annual membership fee is £5, after which it will go up to £30.  To join, or for more details, email: Babette at babettek9 at

Black Spring Press Presents Weird Weekends Part I: The Lost Weekend
7pm, Monday 18th April 2011, Society Film Club, Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NF. UK.
£9 members, £12.50 non-members.

Black Spring Press Presents Weird Weekends Part II: Withnail & I, and Julian Maclaren-Ross’s Bitten by the Tarantula
7pm, Monday 16th  May 2011, Society Film Club,  Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NF. UK.
£9 members, £12.50 non-members.

Further watching and reading about Black Spring Press on the Plectrum Broadcast Player and in the webzine edition of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick:

Watch an interview with Robert Hastings owner of Black Spring Press and and a profile of the publishing house, featuring contributions from, amongst others, Alex Maclaren-Ross, Cathi Unsworth, and Nigel Jones discussing Julian Maclaren-Ross and Patrick Hamilton, on the Plectrum Broadcast Player.

Black Spring Press and the Revival of Literary Reputations

Book Review: Julian Maclaren-Ross Selected Letters edited by Paul Willetts

Book Review: Through a Glass Darkly – The Life of Patrick Hamilton by Nigel Jones


Plectrum – The Cultural Pick

Promote Your Page Too

Black Spring Press

The Society Club

Sanctum Soho Hotel


Leave a Reply