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Posts Tagged ‘Bloomsbury’

Five radical women writers living in a square in a London neighborhood. The square is Mecklenburgh. The neighborhood is Bloomsbury. And one of the women writers is Virginia Woolf.

The book that tells the story of the five independent women writers who lived in Mecklenburgh Square at various times between the two world wars is Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars, just published by Faber & Faber.

Besides Woolf, the women Wade discusses include detective novelist Dorothy Sayers, modernist poet Hilda Doolittle (known as HD), the maverick classicist Jane Ellen Harrison, and the economic historian Eileen Power.

The publisher’s website describes the book this way:

Francesca Wade’s spellbinding group biography explores how these trailblazing women pushed the boundaries of literature, scholarship, and social norms, forging careers that would have been impossible without these rooms of their own.

And one reviewer called Woolf “The presiding genius of this original and erudite book,” describing her “essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’ [as] provided the rallying cry, whether consciously or not, for five remarkable women, all drawn at some point in their careers to Bloomsbury’s Mecklenburgh Square.”

Glowing reviews

I plan to obtain a copy of Square Haunting and review it here. After all, Mecklenburgh Square has a special meaning for me, as it is one of the Woolf sites I visited in 2016 when Cecil Woolf, Virginia and Leonard’s nephew who passed away last June, led me on a six-mile walking tour of Bloomsbury. It was a most memorable day.

For now, though, here are a few quotes from the glowing reviews of Wade’s first book that have already been published online.

Wade’s book rises above the publishing cliches to tell a deeper story about women’s autonomy in the early 20th century, about their work and education, politics and activism. What emerges is an eloquent, pellucid, sometimes poignant study of five female intellectuals, each of whom disdained convention to fulfil their potential as thinkers and writers. – Review by Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Guardian

It is a pleasure to fall into step with the eloquent, elegant Wade as she stamps the streets of literary London. I would give a copy to every young woman graduating from university and wondering who and how to be … There is much to inspire. – The Times Literary Supplement

Wade is adept at evoking the gritty texture of the times, taking us seamlessly from the interior lives of her subjects into the world they inhabited and back again. – Ariane Bankes, Spectator

The site of the building in Mecklenburgh Square in which Virginia Woolf lived. Cecil and I paused here during our 2016 tour of Bloomsbury.

 

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Anne Olivier and Quentin Bell’s home, Dower House, in West Firle in the South Downs of England is now listed on Airbnb for rental. So far, it has a five-star rating and boasts a “Bohemian atmosphere.”

The home has a well-equipped kitchen, book-lined study, large drawing room opening onto a terrace, two bathrooms, and four bedrooms, three with a queen-size bed. Inside amenities include a fireplace, free wifi, washer, iron, central heating, all bedding and linens, and TV. Free parking is available.

Outdoors, there is a walled garden and breathtaking views, as the house is situated in the heart of the South Downs National Park, just outside Firle village at the foot of the Downs.

The cost for six guests is $438 per night. Read more.

With its fascinating history and unique artistic and literary associations, staying at the Dower House is an unusually intimate and enriching experience.

Screenshot of the Dower House listing on the Airbnb website.

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Wednesday, June 19, is officially Dalloway Day. And while some will celebrate on the more convenient following Saturday, the Royal Society of Literature is hosting an event on the actual day.

Walking with Mrs Dalloway” will take place from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery. Essayist Lauren Elkin will lead an afternoon stroll around the National Portrait Gallery, looking at selected paintings and photographs of and by Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and others associated with the Bloomsbury Group and the modernist movement. Following the tour Lauren will give a short talk about Woolf.

Elkin’s most recent book Flâneuse was a Radio 4 Book of the Week and a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.

The event is free to RSL members and fellows, who can book here. Public tickets at a cost of £10/£8 will be available via the National Portrait Gallery website, beginning in early May.

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If you can get yourself to London, you can enjoy a Bloomsbury Evening sponsored by the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain on Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at the NOW Gallery in London.

Maggie Humm will present a salon discussion plus a reading on Virginia Woolf’s story for children, The Widow and The Parrot, with illustrations by her nephew, Julian Bell.

Adults and children of all ages are welcome to relax on the cozy rug in Studio Morrison’s enchanted children’s library under the huge glowing helium balloon.

Tickets: Are available until March 10, are priced at £3.79, and are available online. All proceeds go to the charity Book Trust.

Location: NOW Gallery, The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0SQ

Directions: NOW Gallery is next door to North Greenwich tube on the Jubilee Line, 15 minutes from Green Park. Exit the tube station and the circular glass building is Gateway Pavilion: NOW Gallery is in this building opposite CRAFT London.

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I’d heard the rumor — that a Virginia Woolf “collage” could be spotted in the ladies room of London’s Tavistock Hotel. But I did not expect what I actually found.

Tavistock Hotel in Bloomsbury, London

I went in search of the hotel’s unusual homage to Woolf after the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf in June at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

The clerk at the Tavistock’s front desk directed me to the lobby level ladies room, where I expected to see a lone framed Woolf collage on the wall near the door or the sinks.

Loo decor

I found something entirely different. The wall behind each toilet in each ladies room stall was decorated with a long framed graphic featuring Woolf and her works. Each was cut to feature a different element of her work.

Luckily, the ladies room was unoccupied when I entered, so I was able to take a photograph of each stall. However, some of my photos are a bit tipsy, due to the fact that I had to prop each stall door open with my foot while hurriedly snapping individual pictures.

I made sure to include the commode and toilet tissue roll in the photo when I could manage it, as evidence that this Woolf sighting actually took place in a loo. 

 

The hotel’s Woolf & Whistle serves light meals and beverages.

Traditional afternoon tea is also offered at the Tavistock Hotel’s Woolf & Whistle.

 

About the Tavistock

Blue plaque honoring Virginia and Leonard Woolf installed to the left of the front entrance of the Tavistock Hotel.

The hotel is famous because it is built on the site of Virginia and Leonard’s flat at 52 Tavistock Square, in which they lived from 1924-1939.

A blue plaque commemorating that fact was unveiled on the exterior of the building in April.

 

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