Thursday, 4 October 2007

Fan History: Les Flood

Photo: Les Flood; text by Peter Weston.

During the 1950s and early ’60s Leslie Flood’s ‘Fantasy Centre’ bookshop at Sicilian Arcade, near Kings Cross, London, was the absolute mecca for SF enthusiasts. He had a huge stock of new and secondhand books and magazines, including scarce US titles - desperately sought-after, in those days when currency controls prevented imports from America. Many treasures were to be found in that basement, but science fiction alone couldn’t support a shop in such a central location, so the ground floor was given over to music and records - not such a bad idea in 1956, when this picture was taken, when jazz and science fiction were contemporary bedfellows.

Les Flood was a regular at the ‘White Horse’ pub meetings and conventions, and was also one of the ‘Gang of Four’ (along with John Wyndham) who launched the International Fantasy Awards in 1951. He was involved with the establishment of the London-based SF Luncheon Club in 1954, and in 1957 presented the final IFA to a bemused J.R.R. Tolkien for Lord of the Rings. Les was closely associated with Ted Carnell’s New Worlds as a reviewer and supporter, and eventually took over the Carnell literary agency when Ted retired. Les died in August 2007 in Spain, where he had lived for many years.

2 comments:

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Robin Johnson said...

What a great picture of Les Flood at around the time I first knew him: I wish I could remember how I found his shop the first time. It was tiny and in a small diagonal pedestrian street near Holborn Underground.
He turned me on to collecting SF around the late 50s, but I did not discover fandom for some time after that.
I think the last time I saw Leslie was at MidWestCon in Cincinnati in 1976, when the commercial Con who paid for his trip to the States had folded.
Robin Johnson