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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

LONDON NOTES: The Bloomsbury Gals in Fitzrovia

We're staying at the Indian Y by Fitzroy Square in an area that happens to be steeped in literary history. What a thrill to find that right across the park is the home where George Bernard Shaw lived in 1887-98. 'From the coffers of his genius he enriched the world.'
And after him, a young woman named Virginia Stephen move in. She started writers meetings, met a man named Leonard Woolf and became famous as the writer/critic Virginia Woolf. She lived at this house from 1907-11. Here she wrote 'The Voyage Out' and with her husband formed Hogarth Press and the Bloomsbury group.

Other famous writers and people of historical note also lived in this area. Right across the street in a corner house (now part of the London Foot Hospital) lived General Francisco de Miranda, (1750-1826) precursor of Latin American independence. Here he was visited by Simon Bolivar and Bernardo O'Higgins (liberator ofChile) to plan the campaign to liberate South America. Miramar, a Venezuelan, died later in a Spanish prison. There's a statue of him on the corner by his former home. Bolivar 'The Washington of S.A.' drove the Spanish out of Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Pru and N.Peru (renamed Bolivia in 1825). He ws the first president of Venezuela.

Other notables who resided and created renown works in the Fitzrovia area were C harles Dickens, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin,. Paul Verlain and Arthur Rimbaud, pets, who had a tempestuous relationshi p which included drinking, shooting and stabbings, ins pired future poets such as Boby Dylan. Elas Lancaster ran two nigth clubs here in the 1920's whose memers included HG Wells, Aldous Huxly, George B. Shaw. A poor, unmknown Welsham, Dylan Thomas, arrived in 1934 and would recite passages of 'Under Milkwood' at the Wheatsheaf Pub
The Omega Workshop started up in Fitzroy Square, a hothouse for new ideas, and attracted such notables as Picasso, Shaw, Yeats, Gertrude Stein. Brendan Behand came as an IRA courier in 1939 and stayed on to write his plays. Aneurin Bevan, pioneer of post war reform also lived here.

So we are surrounded by all this political and literary history.

Today we went for an extensive tour with MJ as our tour guide to Old London and then over to Belgravia where she lives. We visited the infamous pub once a favorite of rich and famous such as Diana Dors, Peter O'Toole and Alexander Korda the film producer. It was here that the Great Train Robbery of the 1960's was conceived and planned which netted the robbers a record 40 million Pounds.

More about London after tomorrow's visit to the New Globe....

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