Alison Barnet came to the South End in 1964 as a transfer student to Boston University. As there were no rooms in the BU dorms, she came to live at the Franklin Square House on East Newton Street.
She had no idea where she was, but, walking back and forth to BU every day, she quickly grew to appreciate the South End. “I liked it when people spoke to me, and I found what they said witty, offbeat, profound, poetic, right on target, and never boring.”
In 1980, she was the founding editor of the South End News. As a reporter for Neighborhood Network News on Boston cable TV in the mid-Eighties, she received a Boston Fair Housing Award for having “consistently reported the unpopular stories of racism and greed professionally, despite limited resources.”
She is the author of Extravaganza King: Robert Barnet and Boston Musical Theater (2004), a biography of her playwright great-grandfather, who lived in the South End in the late 19th century. In 2013, she published South End Character, a collection of columns she wrote in the South End News, and, in 2014, Sitting Ducks, a novel set in the South End in 1970.
Her most recent book is Once Upon a Neighborhood, A Timeline and Anecdotal History of the South End of Boston (2019).