Ich Bin Kentishtowner: William Corbett, DJ and historian

‘The famous playwright Alan Bennett slapped me in the face on Camden High Street’

Corbett by Claridge
‘What makes me unhappy? People staring at their mobile phones: it’s like an episode of Dr Who.’ Photo: © John Claridge
A Kentish Town native and polymath, William Corbett is an established DJ, photographer, film producer and punk expert, and will often be found shooting the breeze over one of his beloved (very) long lunches at various local haunts. He’s also an historian whose most recent work is the highly acclaimed and controversial book The Master of the Ceremonies: The hand of Shakespeare, which examines extensive evidence indicating that the revered texts may be the work of somebody else.

When were you happiest?
During the two years I spent DJing in Hong Kong [William’s DJ name is DJ Bill Dup, and he still plays regularly in London].

Where would you like to live?
On a beach.

What is your favourite local building or landmark?
The cafe on the Heath.


What is your your favourite local eatery?
I’ve never had a bad lunch at the Junction Tavern. The standard of the food there has been excellent for the past 10 years. Unfortunately they stopped opening at lunchtimes during the week.

What is your favourite sound or smell?

What is your greatest life achievement?
My book The Master of the Ceremonies, which details my discovery that the hidden author of Shakespeare’s works was Lewes Lewkenor, James I’s Master of the Ceremonies.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Question everything.

Angry: Shakespeare's response to Corbett's accusations earlier today
Bovvered? The bard responds to Corbett’s findings earlier today. (Photo: litreactor.com)
What is your earliest memory of the area?
I remember my Mum taking me to the canteen at the college on Holmes Road in the early 70s. They served organic vegetarian food and it was amazing. I had the best minestrone soup I have ever tasted.

What makes you unhappy?
People staring at their mobile phones: it’s like an episode of Dr Who; like their brains have been switched off as they stare into the glow.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
An iphone.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Being deliberately contrary.

Who or what do you hate and why?
I can’t stand intolerance.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Dirty Burger. Yum.

Where do you hang out?
The Hideaway or Aces and Eights.

What is your favourite local independent shop?
Harry’s Fine Foods on Kentish Town Road.

What has been your best experience in the area?
I went to William Ellis and made some great friends, we had a lot of fun and still do.

Apologetic: 'slapper' Alan Bennett. (Photo: telegraph.co.uk)
Apologetic slapper: Alan Bennett. (Photo: telegraph.co.uk)
The famous playwright Alan Bennett slapped me in the face on Camden High Street. He was chatting to an old lady and as I walked passed he was in mid-sentence “…it’s just down there on the right…” and, as he gestured, he caught me full in the face with the palm of his hand. He was, however, very apologetic.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I look like an animated potato.

What is the worst thing anyone has said to you?
“You look like an animated potato.”

What has your career taught you?
Try harder. Which, funnily enough, was what my teachers always used to say on their reports.

What is your favourite dish and why?
Larb Gai from the Thai Cafe on Fortess Road. I have been going there for 25 years and Rachani, the owner, is an old friend.

What did you do today?
I walked down Kentish Town Road to the Oxfam shop to peruse their books. I love old books and am rapidly approaching the point where I will have more books than I will ever have time to read.

Describe yourself as an animal.

The Master of the Ceremonies: The hand of Shakespeare, by William Corbett is available from all good bookshops. Try Owl or Daunt for starters

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