Ted Kessler – To Ease My Troubled Mind: The Authorised Unauthorised History of Billy Childish

  • final edition covers2
  • 9781399615532-original
  • 9781399624374-original
  • Billy Childish woodcut and EP


L-13 have a few copies of this authorised unauthorised biography by Ted Kessler, published by White Rabbit Books.

Foreword by Stewart Lee

Available in standard hardback edition and Deluxe Signed & Numbered Edition , further details below.

Release date: July 2024

Hardback Edition:
For a limited period copies from L-13 will be signed by both Billy Childish and Ted Kessler

Deluxe Edition designed by Billy Childish:

  • Bound in lime green linen-covered boards with foiled titles designed by Billy Childish, unique to this strictly limited run of 500 copies
  • All copies signed and numbered by Ted Kessler and Billy Childish on a bound in limitation page
  • Comes with a 7” black vinyl EP  – white label with rubber stamped titles and “Xerox” label on cover – with four tracks from four different Wild Billy Childish bands, and an original one colour woodcut print signed by the artist with Billy’s customary gallows symbol
  • All housed in a custom kraft paper covered solander box with colour inside printing featuring Billy’s crow motif, with foiled titles and rubber stamped ‘Ltd Edition’

In 1977, 17-year-old Steven Hamper was a stonemason in the dockyards of Chatham, Kent. His heart, however, beat in sync with the punk rock tremors of the era, seduced by its celebration of amateurism. So, in a gesture of revolutionary defiance, he took a 3lb club hammer and smashed his hand, vowing to never work again. In doing so, Steven Hamper metamorphosed into Billy Childish, a true renaissance man.

Continue reading below….

Ted Kessler was on the staff at NME as a writer and editor between 1993 and 2003, before joining Q magazine’s staff, working there for 16 years. He was Q’s editor for four years, until it closed in 2020.  His first book, Paper Cuts: How I Destroyed the British Music Press and Other Misadventures, was published by White Rabbit in 2022. He also devised and edited the acclaimed My Old Man: Tales of Our Fathers, published in 2016 by Canongate.
Billy says of the how the book came into being:

‘i met ted in the distant past, upstairs at the nelson pub on cambridge circus  when he interviewed me for a fanzine, i think.

i immediately liked him. A few years later when, we released a 45 , ‘we hate the fucking NME’ (Thee Headcoats), whist other journalists cried, Ted, himself, working at that most esteemed ‘power that be’, put the tune on his answer phone. Indeed this man had class and style beyond his years.  Further down the path a bio of billy childish, (who ever he is) was muted.

Who could unravel the mystery?

Ted was the fellow.  ‘It’s your book,’ i told him, ‘i won’t read it, or stick my neb in, but,  do re check facts as best you can, and allow contradictory statements, by all parties to remain.’  So it is The Authorised Unauthorised, – unread, unchecked ,by myself,  as i prefer not to know. and billy childish can remain a mystery unto myself.’

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Childish has since remained steadfastly true to punk’s DIY cred, becoming one of the most recognisable and authentic voices in whichever artistic endeavour he undertakes. He has released over one hundred and fifty albums of raw rock and roll, punk, blues and folk, written many volumes of searing poetry as well as several autobiographical novels. But what he is perhaps best known for in recent years is his painting, for which he is now critically, commercially and internationally feted. He hasn’t changed course in any of his disciplines, though. The world just caught up with the sheer volume of his brutally honest work.

To Ease My Troubled Mind is a mosaic portrait collated over a year of interviews with Childish, as well as with close family, ex-girlfriends, bandmembers past and present, friends, foes, collaborators, even his therapist. It is an unflinching, yet frequently spiritual and funny portrait of an artist whose obstacle-strewn upbringing formed the backbone of his work: raised in a broken home and abused as a child, Childish was an undiagnosed dyslexic in remedial class at school who is nevertheless now Britain’s most prolific and uncompromising creative force.

Additional information


Hardback, Deluxe