Brighton Darkness (front cover)

Dark and light in a city of dreams

Brighton Darkness is a collection of short stories relating to that amorphous place known as the city of Brighton and Hove. The book is by Brighton writer John Roman Baker and is published this month in paperback by Wilkinson House.

The stories span the decades from the 1950s to the present day and explore the many contradictions and quirks that define the city’s unique character. The cover of the book reflects these contradictions. It depicts the façade of the city’s once elegant Astoria cinema which is currently the subject of controversial demolition plans. The derelict state of the building is offset by its glowing neon sign, a cheeky photobombing seagull and a bigger-than-life copy of Banksy’s iconic Kissing Coppers.

John Roman Baker explains, “The Astoria was a place of dreams, a place of beauty, where people of all ages could go and enter multiple different realities and even find love like two young characters in my book. Its impending demolition represents the loss of all those dreams as well as a great loss for this city which time and again seems to undervalue and destroy its architectural heritage. My book though is more about people than buildings.”

The stories in Brighton Darkness are as diverse as the city. From gay first love in the Astoria cinema in the 1950s, to the reminiscences of an elderly woman in Regency Square as she looks back on her turbulent past relationships and faces her current reality.

Gay life in the city runs as a theme through many of the stories, while the author’s experiences of other cities, Amsterdam, Paris and New York add a global context to the book. Another recurrent theme is that of return. The author himself recently returned to the city after 17 years living and working in the Netherlands.

“True Brightonians, can never really leave this place. You always have to come back, and the city with all its idiosyncrasies remains as troubled and as irresistible as ever.” – John Roman Baker

Brighton Darkness is available online and from highstreet bookstores worldwide. Ebook versions will be available from August 2015.

Brighton Darkness by John Roman Baker
ISBN: 978-1-899713-41-7

£12.99 (paperback)
£4.99 (ebook)

$14.99 (paperback)
$5.99 (ebook)


John Roman Baker is an author, poet and playwright who has lived and worked mainly in Brighton Amsterdam and Paris. In Brighton he was well known as an activist for gay rights through the 1970s and 80s. He was associated with the setting up of the Sussex Aids Helpline and created a unique cultural response to the Aids crisis through his theatre company Aids Positive Underground Theatre who were regulars at the Brighton and Edinburgh festivals and won awards including the Brighton Festival Award for Best Theatre in 1990. In 1997 he moved to the Netherlands where he continued his theatre work and wrote several novels. In 2014 he returned to live in his hometown Brighton.
More info: Wikipedia