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Victorian Bloomsbury

Victorian Bloomsbury

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Victorian Bloomsbury
    Book Description:

    While Bloomsbury is now associated with Virginia Woolf and her early-twentieth-century circle of writers and artists, the neighborhood was originally the undisputed intellectual quarter of nineteenth-century London. Drawing on a wealth of untapped archival resources, Rosemary Ashton brings to life the educational, medical, and social reformists who lived and worked in Victorian Bloomsbury and who led crusades for education, emancipation, and health for all.

    Ashton explores the secular impetus behind these reforms and the humanitarian and egalitarian character of nineteenth-century Bloomsbury. Thackeray and Dickens jostle with less famous characters like Henry Brougham and Mary Ward. Embracing the high life of the squares, the nonconformity of churches, the parades of shops, schools, hospitals and poor homes, this is a major contribution to the history of nineteenth-century London.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15448-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. xiv-xlvi)
  6. Introduction: Surveying Bloomsbury
    (pp. 1-24)

    The name ‘Bloomsbury’ is thought to derive from the manor house (‘bury’) of William Blemond, who acquired the land surrounding what is now Bloomsbury Square in 1201.¹ Mention the word ‘Bloomsbury’ today, and many people will think of the ‘Bloomsbury Group’ of writers and artists who lived and worked in the leafy squares of London WC1 in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and their friends could lay strong claim to avant-gardism in art and literature, but they were not the first to put Bloomsbury on the cultural map. It was in...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Godlessness on Gower Street
    (pp. 25-57)

    On Monday 6 June 1825 an article entitled ‘The London College’ was printed inThe Times. It gave an account of a meeting at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand the previous Saturday of ‘about 120 of the gentlemen who have taken a principal interest in the formation of the London College, or University’.¹ In the chair was Henry Brougham. Among the ‘public characters’ supporting him were several prominent Whig and reforming members of parliament, including Lord John Russell, third son of the sixth Duke of Bedford, and Joseph Hume, famous for his dogged attacks on royal and...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Steam Intellect: Diffusing Useful Knowledge
    (pp. 58-81)

    As wilkins’s grand new building with its promise of higher education for London was going up on Gower Street in 1827, another modernising educational venture was being unveiled with the publication of the first of many sixpenny treatises under the auspices of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK). The Society had no permanent headquarters, but it was in essence a Bloomsbury organisation, closely related to the developing university not only by sharing temporary offices in Percy Street, just west of Tottenham Court Road, until the Gower Street building opened, but also by having a number of personnel...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Gower Street Again: Scandals and Schools
    (pp. 82-104)

    Any new institution with a radical or progressive agenda is liable to attract both ground-breaking pioneers who make a difference to national as well as local culture and society – the founders of the University of London taken as a group, and a number of the early professors, come into this category – and inevitably also some mavericks, quacks, and chancers. The exotically named Dionysius Lardner, Church of England clergyman, editor of an encyclopaedia, and populariser of steam engine technology, belongs in part to the latter group, and history has forgotten him, though he made a contribution to the rapid...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Bloomsbury Medicine: Letting in the Light
    (pp. 105-130)

    It had been part of the plan for the new university from the beginning that it would have an up-to-date medical faculty and also its own hospital to serve the double function of caring for the local community and teaching students the practice of medicine to complement the theory being taught in the classrooms of Gower Street. Lack of money and the council’s preoccupation with setting the university itself on a firm basis meant that there was a delay before a new hospital could be built on the opposite side of the road. When the building opened in 1834, it...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The British Museum, Panizzi, and the Whereabouts of Russell Square
    (pp. 131-154)

    In his article on penny literature inFraser’s Magazinein March 1838, ‘Half-a-Crown’s Worth of Cheap Knowledge’, Thackeray mentioned in passing ‘Mr Croker’s old joke, who new not, positively, where about was Russell Square’.¹ The reference was to a remark made by John Wilson Croker in parliament in 1825; thirteen years on, Thackeray did not feel the need to explain what the joke was about, so well known was it to his readers. His own relation to Russell Square was a close one geographically; he moved in the same month that theFraser’sarticle was published to nearby Great Coram...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Towards the Millennium
    (pp. 155-182)

    If a little bohemianism touched the Bloomsbury of the British Museum late in the nineteenth century – from 1871 University College had its share too, in the form of art students attending its Slade School of Art – a very different set of people made their mark in Bloomsbury somewhat earlier. These were men and women who belonged to a variety of dissenting religious groups, some of them rather exotic and colourful in their own way, and all of them intent on reforms of their own. Their desire was to counter both the perceived complacency of the established Church and...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN A ‘Quasi-Collegiate’ Experiment in Gordon Square
    (pp. 183-214)

    The Catholic Apostolic Church’s adjoining neighbour on the west side of Gordon Square is a Tudor Gothic building erected in 1849, the year before Brandon’s church was begun. It too belongs to the history of Nonconformist religion in Bloomsbury, though of a very different kind. Called University Hall, it was built as the first hall of residence for students of University College after money was raised among London’s Unitarians. Unitarianism, or Socinianism as it was also called, with its minimalist beliefs and rituals, was almost as far as it was possible to be doctrinally from the Catholic Apostolic Church. Back...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT Educating Women
    (pp. 215-248)

    Elisabeth Jesser Reid, the woman who inaugurated higher education for women in Britain, was a long-term Bloomsbury resident who naturally turned to her acquaintances among the professors at University College and University Hall, including Hutton, Carpenter, and Beesly, to help her with her new college, established in Bedford Square in 1849, the same year in which University Hall opened. Though she often despaired about the future of her college, it survived to become Bedford College and a constituent part of the University of London. Without help from the men of Gower Street and Gordon Square she might have failed. Instead,...

  15. CHAPTER NINE Christian Brotherhood, Co-operation, and Working Men and Women
    (pp. 249-273)

    The year 1848 was a momentous one for European politics, with uprisings in many continental cities following the example set by French liberals and reformers in Paris in February 1848, when large crowds took to the barricades and a (short-lived) revolutionary government was installed. In March middle-class radicals and working-class protesters joined forces against their governments in Berlin, Vienna, and other cities across Europe. London saw no revolution, but fear of contagion induced Lord John Russell’s Whig government to prepare carefully for events on 10 April 1848, the great day of protest planned by the Chartist movement. A demonstration was...

  16. CHAPTER TEN Work and Play in Tavistock Place
    (pp. 274-304)

    The founding of the Froebel Society in 1874 in Kensington marked the bringing of the kindergarten system into the mainstream of British education. The Education Act of 1870 smoothed the way by making provision for elementary education for all children, though it was not until a second Act of 1880 that education from the ages of five to ten was made compulsory. But Friedrich Froebel’s system of teaching very young children through play, song, dance, and outdoor pursuits had been introduced in Britain twenty years earlier, when Johannes and Bertha Ronge set up the first kindergarten for children aged three...

  17. Epilogue
    (pp. 305-310)

    Not every reform or innovation in the social, intellectual, and cultural life of London in the nineteenth century had its origins in Bloomsbury. The area to the west of Tottenham Court Road, now known as Fitzrovia, could boast the Ladies’ Guild run by Octavia Hill and her mother and Frances Martin’s breakaway College for Working Women from 1874. Barbara Leigh Smith founded her co-educational school at Portman Hall in Marylebone; Elizabeth Garrett’s hospital for women started in that area too, before moving to the edge of Bloomsbury in 1890. Queen’s College, founded by F.D. Maurice in 1848 for the training...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 311-346)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 347-359)
  20. Index
    (pp. 360-380)