Winter 1955 • Vol. XVII No. 1 Nonfiction |

The Significance of Bloomsbury¹

The district of London known as Bloomsbury lies between the furniture shops of Tottenham Court Road and the rambling hotels and Turkish Baths of Southampton Row. To the south, New Oxford Street separates it from the Seven Dials, and beyond its northern frontier, the Euston Road, lies the grime and seediness of Paddington. Yet Bloomsbury itself is seedy enough these days. The new white bulk of London University's administration building shows up the stained columns of the British Museum and the trampled grass and dirty façades of Russell Square and Gordon Square; the 18th and early 19th Century merchants' houses have been partitioned into flats, lodging houses for foreign students and offices for gentlemanly societies. But in 1904, when Virginia and Vanessa Stephen and their brothers Thoby and Adrian set up house at 46 Gordon Square, the district still had a solid respectability. Where the daily chars now "do" for the lodgers, frilly-fronted housemaids bobbed to the ladies and gentl

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