Posts Tagged ‘Mecklenburgh Square’

Want to stay in a Bloomsbury bedroom dedicated to Virginia Woolf that is also on the site of a home formerly occupied by Virginia and Leonard Woolf? Maybe you can.

The site of the building at 37 Mecklenburgh Square in which Virginia Woolf lived.

The Woolfs lived on the top floor at 37 Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury, during the London blitz from 1939-1940, according to Jean Moorcroft Wilson’s Virginia Woolf Life and London: Bloomsbury and Beyond (1987/2011).

Now on that site is the William Goodenough House, which is part of Goodenough College. It has one student-style bedroom dedicated to Virginia, and each year that room is allocated to a literary student who, upon arrival, finds a copy of A Room of One’s Own on their bedside table.

Naida Babic was a student at Goodenough College in 2021. She recently met up with College Director Alice Walpole and friends to install a framed copy of one of her poems outside the room dedicated to Woolf, next to Woolf’s commemorative plaque.

She contacted Blogging Woolf to tell us about it and directed us to a story posted on the college website, where you can read the poem she wrote.

She explains: “I was living at Goodenough College while completing the last term of my MA Creative Writing programme at Birkbeck University, London. I wrote my poem “In the Hand of Virginia” during my poetry module.”

To commemorate the occasion, Maggie Humm, emeritus professor of cultural studies at the University of East London and the author or editor of 14 scholarly books and two novels, as well as Vice-Chair of the Virginia Woolf’s Society of Great Britain, gave a lecture on “The Photography of the Writer Virginia Woolf and Her Sister, the Artist Vanessa Bell.”

Maggie Humm talks about Woolf’s photography and how it relates to her writing at Dalloway Day 2018 at Gower Street Waterstones.


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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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Gower Street Waterstones

About 25 Virginia Woolf fans gathered at Gower Street Waterstones this afternoon to talk about ”Woolf, Walking & Writing” in advance of the official #DallowayDay this Wednesday.

The walk

The bookstore and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain sponsored the event, which began with an hour-long tour of Bloomsbury guided by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of Virginia Woolf’s London.

Jean began the walk with the suggestion that we think about it as a shopping expedition, one Woolf would have taken in her day. She then led us around the Bloomsbury squares where Woolf and other Bloomsbury Group members lived, putting each in context by adding quotes from Woolf’s diaries and references to her 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway.

The talks

Back at the shop, the event included a panel discussion about writing with two writers — Francesca Wade and Farah Ahamed. Wade is writing a book about interwar women and Mecklenburgh Square and Ahamed writes fiction and essays.

The event concluded with wine and a presentation about Woolf’s photographs by Maggie Humm, author of Snapshots of Bloomsbury.

Here are some photos from the day.

The Woolf crowd gathers at Waterstones for the tour led by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson on the doorstep of 46 Gordon Square, Woolf’s first Bloomsbury home.

Our next stop was the Tavistock Hotel, where this blue plaque honoring Virginia and Leonard Woolf was installed this spring. The hotel is located on the site of their former home at 52 Tavistock Square, which was destroyed in World War II.

At Waterstones, ready for the #DallowayDay talks

A display of books by and about Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group available at the shop.

Panel discussion on Woolf and writing with M.L. Banting, Farah Ahamed and Francesca Wade.

Maggie Humm talks about Woolf’s photography and how it relates to her writing.

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This week in Woolf sightings, we have the essay, as Woolf wrote it, described as the art form of the future (5); art, as Woolf called it, thought of as a form of fishing (7), and fiction, as Woolf tells it, spun as a spider’s web (8). Oh, and we also have Virginia Woolf and Britney Spears in almost the same sentence (1). Seriously.

Britney Spears

Britney Spears (Photo credit: steven.ishiwara)

  1. WHAT!? Britney Spears Could Be Writing The Next Great Novel (DETAILS)Global Grind
    Virginia Woolf, Flannery O’ Conner, Toni Morrison and J.K. Rowling, move over and make room for the next great female novelist. PHOTOS: Britney Spears’ Lucky Magazine Cover Is Causing Some Controversy! According to TheHollywoodReporter, pop 
  2. ‘Orlando’ Steals the StageNew University Online
    Modernist author Virginia Woolf attempts to answer many of these questions in her novel “Orlando,” a tale of a young boy who lives for five centuries, changes genders once and doesn’t age past 36 years. The Claire Trevor School of the Arts had big 
  3. Who Would These 9 Famous Authors Vote For In The 2012 Election?, Huffington Post
    Who would lyricists like Virginia Woolf cast their ballots for? It’s difficult to say, but fun to speculate. In his famous essay, “Why I Write,” George Orwell said, “…no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have …  Read “Would Virginia have voted for Mittens? Cast your vote
  4. Justin Cronin, author of The Passage, on book two of his vampire trilogyA.V. Club
    As I started writing her, and writing her mind in her state of busy surface activity containing deep unpleasant thoughts, rather quickly, the inspiration, the literary source for this became Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. [Laughs.] A book I loved in 
  5. issue 151 out nowE-Flux
    Energy & Rue: Brian Dillon surveys writers from Michel de Montaigne to Wayne Koestenbaum, and from Virginia Woolf to Chris Marker, and asks whether the centuries-old form of the essay could be the genre of the future. City Report: Amsterdam: To 
  6. What are London’s best museums for lovers of literature?Telegraph.co.uk
    It can feel as if he (the key London literary museums all remember men, and Virginia Woolf’s Mecklenburgh Square home was destroyed in the Blitz) has just popped around the corner for a bushel of wheat and is due back at any moment. Lovesick poet Keats 
  7. The art of Judy ChicagoThe Guardian
    “I didn’t make myself an outsider,” she says. “The art world made me an outsider. Of course, isolation is essential to the creative act. You have to be with yourself, with your ideas. Virginia Woolf talked about it as fishing: you sit on the shore, you 
  8. Through the Window, By Julian BarnesThe Independent
    As Virginia Woolf put it: “Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.” Well, Barnes is something of an arachnologist and in this anthology he has pinned down a surprising selection 
  9. From the heart Stories and secretsThe Economist
    Virginia Woolf dismisses “Ulysses”: “an illiterate, underbred book it seems to me.” Sir Noel Coward is confused by John Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger”, the celebrated play of the 1950s. “It is so full of talent and fairly well constructed but I wish I 
  10. PW Picks: The Best New Books for the Week of November 5, 2012Publishers Weekly
    This week: books from Oliver Sacks, Barbara Kingsolver, and Virginia Woolf. Plus: an outstanding graphic memoir on bipolar disorder. The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 by Bernard Bailyn 
    At home, Elinor, obsessed with her missing brother, paints his image over and over between weekend getaways to Bloomsbury hangouts where she encounters a chilly Virginia Woolf (of course, Barker’s title evokes Woolf’s 1922 novel, Jacob’s Room).
  12. Q&A: In Zadie Smith’s ‘NW,’ Some Harsh Truths About FriendshipPBS NewsHour (blog)
    When people use that, it’s kind of just a term they use for anything that looks slightly different on the page. Stream of consciousness is something like Virginia Woolf, for example, which is quite different from what I was trying to do. I just wanted 

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