Abstract Composition‘An artist at the forefront of the avant-garde in Britain – from her involvement with the Rhythm group during the late 1910s, to vorticism, post-war figuration and the abstraction of the 1930s – Jessica Dismorr (1885 – 1939)  has since, unjustly, fallen into obscurity. But at the Pallant in Chichester there is an exhibition of the work of her and her contemporaries who engaged with modernist literature and radical politics through their art, including their contributions to campaigns for women’s suffrage and the anti-fascist organisations of the 1930s.’ This is Abstract Composition 1915.

Scan 3

When she got to England Gerty Simon’s career continued: until the outbreak of war when she stopped taking photographs, cf. this article in the Guardian. This is Peggy Ashcroft, taken in the mid 1930s.


The fabulous Lotte Lenya photographed by Gerty Simon. Last weekend there was a R3 programmed called Remembering Weimar 1919- 33 which admirably gives the atmosphere of this photograph, here. And here is Lotte singing.


This is Lion Feuchtwanger photographed by Gerty Simon. We publish his great novel The Oppermanns next April .


A photograph of an unknown child by Gerty Simon, unknown maybe but unforgettable.


For the last few months this photograph has been in the lift at Russell Square and it drew us inexorably to the Wiener Library and the exhibition there. This has now closed but the photographs are quite unforgettable. They were the work of Gerty Simon and this is what the Wiener Library website says about her: The exhibition showcases the remarkable work of German Jewish photographer Gerty (Gertrud) Simon (1888-1965), and features many of her original prints from the 1920s and 1930s. Simon was a once-prominent photographer who captured many important political and artistic figures in Weimar Berlin, including Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Käthe Kollwitz, Max Liebermann and Albert Einstein. In the 1930s, as a refugee from Nazism in Britain, Simon rapidly re-established her studio, and portrayed many significant individuals there, such as Sir Kenneth Clark, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Aneurin Bevan. This photograph of Renee Sintenis (1888-1965) sculptor and medallist dates from 1929-32.


Designed by the same team of architects as the Hoover Building in Ealing, the Daimler Hire Car Garage (just behind Tottenham Court Road) was built in 1931 as the company’s head office. The offices were on the ground level and the deluxe chauffeur-driven cars were housed on the upper levels (the terrible Mrs Featherstone Hogg has one in Miss Buncle’s Book). © Image by McMann London

DWL Front elevation

Dr Williams, an Irish minster, left his collection of over 7,500 books as a library for theological students when he died in 1716. It moved to this mock-Tudor building on Gordon Square, a former hall of residence for University of London students, in 1890. Dr Williams’ Library made headlines in 2006 when it sold its prize possession, a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio containing all thirty-six of Shakespeare’s plays, for £2.8 million at Sotheby’s (making it then the world’s most expensive book).

Cabman's Shelter

There are just thirteen of these small green huts left in London, one of which is on the north-west corner of Russell Square. They are Cabmen’s Shelters, erected by the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund in the 1870s, headed by the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury who saw the necessity for providing places of warmth and refreshment for the hard-working cabmen of the city. They had to follow strict guidelines as they were built on public footpaths so could be no larger than a standard horse and cart and all swearing, drinking and gambling were banned. Only qualified cabbies were allowed inside, a rule which still applies today. ©Image Lucy McMurdo


The Queen’s Larder pub is a 4 minute walk from Persephone Books and has a very interesting history. It was built before the rest of Queen Square when it looked over open fields. Soon, three sides of Georgian housing and been built along the east, west and south sides of the Square; the north side was left open so that residents had views up to the hills of Hampstead and Highgate (and therefore could benefit from the country air). The Square’s reputation for health was such that when George III had another of his bouts of illness in 1788, Queen Charlotte sent him to live with his physician Dr Willis there. It is said that she rented the cellars beneath the pub to store the King’s favourite food and ales and so the pub has been called The Queen’s Larder ever since.

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