The Persephone Biannually (the first, after thirty-two Persephone Quarterlies) has gone to the printer. Now we are getting ready for the April mail-out; hoping for some reviews of the two new books; enjoying a very funny piece by Charlotte Smith in the Sunday Express ‘S’ magazine about How To Run Your Home without Help (this will be reprinted in the Biannually); and looking forward to the Classic Serial this Sunday April 1st and the following Sunday April 8th (Easter Sunday). This is an adaptation by Michelene Wandor of The Making of a Marchioness and its sequel The Methods of Lady Walderhurst (both of which are included in our volume, Persephone Book No.29) starring Lucy Briers, Joanna David, Miriam Margolyes and Charles Dance. Do try and listen, it should be fun.
We have had many replies to our second (monthly) email letter in which we suggested books that would make good presents for Easter for oneself or one’s host, for example Kitchen Essays and Gardener’s Nightcap. If you are reading this but are not on our email list do add yourself in by going to the Persephone Books home page and typing in your email address in the box on the left-hand side.
So, along with everyone else, after the clocks went forward we have been spring-cleaning, planting in the window boxes outside the shop and longing for the days when we can sit in the garden to eat our lunch.
For now, it is too cold to do anything but walk briskly round Bloomsbury. Jane Bell, who supplies titles for our Vintage Books shelves, gave us a book called Our Sisters’ London: Feminist Walking Tours by Katherine Sturtevant. Here are some of the highlights in the area round Lamb’s Conduit Street: Start at Russell Square, where, at No.56, Mary Russell Mitford (who wrote Our Village, and bred Flush and then gave him to Virginia Woolf) once held a literary dinner party for Wordsworth, among others; the Pankhurst family lived at No.8 (now part of the Russell Hotel) from 1888-93 and Christabel, Sylvia and Adela used to play in the square; and Mary Datchett in Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day worked at the women’s suffrage office in Russell Square.
Then walk through to Queen Square and look at the beautiful building housing the Mary Ward Centre; here you can learn French or Italian, do a computer or a dance course, or have a cheap vegetarian lunch. The Centre is named after Mrs Humphrey Ward and was the Female School of Design from 1861 until 1908, when it merged with the Central School of Arts and Crafts. When Fanny Burney lived in Queen Square from 1771-2, the north end of the square was still on the edge of open countryside and she could see the slopes of Hampstead and Highgate. No. 29, now part of the National Hospital, was the site of the Working Women’s College, founded in 1864.
Now walk along Great Ormond Street and turn right into Lamb’s Conduit Street. After coming in to Persephone Books at No.59, turn left into Rugby Street, where Ted Hughes was lodging when he and Sylvia Plath were first married, and walk through to Great James Street where Dorothy Sayers lived (there is a Blue Plaque). Finally, turn left into Doughty Street where Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby shared a flat (another Blue Plaque).
This feminist walking tour of Bloomsbury will be continued at a future date. For now, we hope you all have a very good Easter break. I shall be in New York and greatly look forward to seeing eighty East Coast Persephone readers at the tea on April 14th.
30 March 2007
Lamb’s Conduit Street