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Subversion in Bloomsbury—and why Woolf’s grappling with freedom still resonates today

Francesca Wade offers an elegant account of five women pursuing creative freedom in cosmopolitan London

By Jane Shilling   March 2020
Virginia Woolf in 1927

Virginia Woolf in 1927

“I like this London life, the street sauntering and square haunting,” wrote Virginia Woolf. Francesca Wade, a literary editor and Prospect contributor, borrows Woolf’s observation as the title for her composite biography of five women for whom Mecklenburgh Square in Bloomsbury offered a room of their own, and a place where their ideas about identity and their role in society were formed. As the cosmopolitan heart of London’s intellectual life, Bloomsbury had an excitingly rackety reputation in the early 20th century: moving there…

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