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The Author

Janson Woodall


Me 1953

My Mother 1945

I was born in Balham in 1947. My mother was unmarried and gay.  From 1953 to 1963 she took over a boarding house in Paddington. The book is my illustrated childhood memories of my mother’s boarding house during the 1950s. It was a unique and crazy time with a house full of eccentric tenants.


The book are real-life experiences few can imagine today. For me those childhood years were some of the most exciting times of my life. The characters in my book are as real as when I first knew them all those years ago. The book is about sharing those times with you.


By 1963 the pressure of running the boarding house was too much and my monther had to go into hospital.  I was taken into care by Westminster City Council. I left school in 1966 and by good luck ended up having a career in publishing. I worked for a number of publishers including Kogan Page, FT and Sweet & Maxwell. For a period of my life, I ran my own business and did training of publishers in the UK, Eastern Europe, and South Africa.

In 2017 I took up art and did a Foundation course at City Lit.  It was then I started developing the illustrations of my childhood. Over the last year those illustrations and stories have become a book. I am married and live in North London but Paddington is still my home. I grew up in the black and white world of post war  London and the smogs and terrible winter of 1963. The book reflects those times.


If there is one message that I would like the book to convey, it is a difficult childhood doesn’t need to define your life. Doing the book helped me come to terms with a  most unusual childhood.”


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