52 Tavistock Square
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1924 – Exiled outside London for a few years to take care of her health, novelist Virginia Woolf, 42, decides to find a new apartment in the city with her husband Leonard.
They lease a building at 52 Tavistock Square, near the house where Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities.
Virginia and Leonard live on the top two floors, renting the two floors below.
They establish the Hogarth Press in the basement, and Virginia sets up a new writing room for herself.
Having published 3 novels and several short stories in the previous decade, Virginia is in the midst of writing a new one, Mrs Dalloway.
Published in 1925 and later known as The Hours, the book confirms Woolf as major and unconventional writer.
Excited by a new story and writing techniques, she works feverishly on a new novel, To The Lighthouse. The pressure is overwhelming: she collapses in the summer of 1925.
Forced to rest until 1926, she realizes how cathartic the experience has been: she no longer obsesses about her mother and her writing style is now more fluid and effortless.
The grace doesn’t last long, but allows her to finish the book.
1927 – As To The Lighthouse is published, she starts a new novel to reduce her anxiety: Orlando. Defying time, space and gender, the titular character is based on Vita Sackville-West, with whom she developed a close friendship. Starting in the sixteen century a a young boy, the main protagonist ends up as a woman on October 11, 1928, the day the book is published.
1928 – Invited by the university of Cambridge to deliver speeches to female students in two women’s colleges, she decides to expand the content of her lecture on a new non-fiction book, A Room of One’s Own.
For the first time, she’s using her own experience to serve a bigger cause.
1929 – As A Room of One’s Own is published in October 1929, it is received with great interest… and controversy.
Calling for economic and personal emancipation, the book shocks men and women alike, defying a male-dominated world.
A critical and popular success the manifesto sells more than 10,000 copies in six months and will become a feminist classic during the following decades.
1939 – As neighboring homes are being bombed during the early months of World War II, the couple move to 37 Mecklenburgh Square. Both habitations will be destroyed during the following year, prompting the Woolf to finally relocate to Monk’s House, their country house in Sussex.
The former building at 52 Tavistock Square has been replaced since then by the Tavistock Hotel.
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