Sonnet 6 in Formerly is Duk of Gton, whose enigmatic title refers to the decomposing sign of an East End boozer, now reduced by falling letters to the Duk of On. It is not, in its Horror Channel-blaring, bleach-fragranced splendour, a hostelry tourists usually make a beeline for – more the haunt of everyday working geezers who, in her Field Notes, Tamar Yoseloff recalls as “Cockney, Irish, Polish … huddled in small groups with their pints”. So we were pleased to hear that a group of New York university students, inspired by Formerly, recently made a literary pilgrimage there – and even seem to have enjoyed the experience.
The students in question can be found on the blog Women Writing London, discussing female writers who’ve engaged with the Great Wen, and responding to the various places that inspired them. The young scholars ended up at The Duk because Formerly is on their route map, as are works by Ali Smith, Carol Ann Duffy, Patience Agbabi, Tracy Chevalier, Zadie Smith and several others, plus a few landmarks more salubrious than The Duk, such as Greenwich Observatory and Highgate Cemetery.
The Fredonia-based undergrads were only in London for a couple of weeks, exploring these sites for the first time, and it’s interesting to read the musings of such fresh-eyed visitors, some only on their first trip out of the USA. If they were looking for an authentic, non-touristic experience in trendy Shoreditch, The Duk is it – we hope they enjoyed their tepid lagers!
• Read all the students’ articles on Formerly here.
Pictured: the NY students – sans tepid lager – contemplate literary London, in a shot taken from their blog.