Nicholas Saunders (activist)
He researched, self-published and distributed a series of editions of Alternative London (ISBN 978-0950162829), an encyclopaedic guide to living in London, particularly for young people squatting, living on low incomes, on the fringes of conventional society, and with 'alternative' values and ambitions such as living communally and pursuing spiritual development. After traveling around the country in his live-in van Saunders published the larger 'Alternative England and Wales' guide in the same vein. Topics included improvising plumbing, electrical and other services, dealing with the legal and social security systems, sex, health, drug information, transport, food and spiritual religious and mystical systems.
In 1976 Saunders moved into a warehouse in Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, where he opened a wholefood shop. This enterprise was successful and enabled him to start other businesses in the Yard including a dairy, cafe, the 'Apothecary' (dispensing alternative and natural remedies) and therapy rooms. Something of the character of Neal's Yard at the time is conveyed by pieces by Tim Hunkin: a water clock on the frontage of the shop and, inside the yard, a coin-operated animated wooden sculpture.
E for Ecstasy
Personal experience with MDMA (ecstasy) led Saunders to investigate and write about this drug. He wrote E for Ecstasy and other books, and established the ecstasy.org website to provide not only general information but specific guides to various batches of the drug in circulation at any given time.
At the time of his death he was researching the use by peoples in various parts of the world of psychoactive drugs as part of traditional social rituals.
- 1970-1982 - Alternative London - six editions, last one edited by Georganne Downes
- 1975 - 'Alternative England and Wales'
- 1993 - 'E For Ecstasy' - later revisions: 'Ecstasy and the Dance Culture' (1995) 'Ecstasy Reconsidered' (1997)
- Ecstasy.org website
- EROWID page with pictures and links
- 1997 interview with Saunders
- A space for people to share their thoughts and feelings on Nicholas' life on www.stain.org