Life in the square

I usually take the tube to Euston station and walk towards Tavistock Square when I visit Bloomsbury in London. Fate, in the face of roadworks, diverts me to Gordon Square.  
The Square is snuggled between the tall, dark-purple coloured Edwardian buildings. The instantaneous feeling that this park is somehow unusual comes to me. The park is not so meticulously maintained as Tavistock, somehow it is less organised, more left on its own. 
Yellow paths cross the bright green grass. Birds are singing and one of them flies to a birdhouse in a tree, pokes around it for a while and playfully disappears just before I focus the camera. 
A young mum pushes her pram into the garden and with a deep sign of relief sits on one of the benches. She tenderly takes her baby out of the pram and protectively embraces her. The picturesque Hansel and Gretel style cafe at the entrance of the park opens for service.
A green sign next to the cafe presents unclear pictures of strange people dressed in fashions from  the last century. 
Only if you stop and read the text under the photos (or you may already know) do you learn that behind the fence around the park, across the road, is Number 46 Gordon Square, the house that accommodated the famous Bloomsbury group in the first half of the 20th century. 
There is extensive literature about this influential group – “The Old Bloomsbury” and the new generation of “The Bright New Things“ that transformed the group into “The New Bloomsbury” of the Jazz Era. 
The group was controversial. Its members definitely were ahead of their time. They had a rebellious approach to creativity and to the way of living. From the distance of the first quarter of 21st century the group seems avant-garde and old-fashioned at the same time. Two Bloomsbury Group themes are fascinating for me:
1. The Bloomsbury Group was a “family of choice”. 
The group members were families, friends, lovers, spouses and colleagues. They maintained life-long ties of affection, mutual support, understanding and acceptance. They provided a safe environment where everyone could be themselves without fear or embarrassment. The truth was their ideal and experiments with innovations and sexuality were strongly encouraged. 
They were an informal group, with loose ties, yet, they existed as a group for 30 years. 
2. Bloomsbury was a group of equality. In 1904 four Stephen children – brothers Adrian and Thoby and sisters Vanessa and Virginia moved to Number 46 Gordon Square after the death of their father. 
The future creator of the painting “Conversation”, Vanessa chose the house. The siblings were in their 20s and were free from having any adults to supervise their social interactions that conventions of the Victorian era demanded. The two sisters met the friends of their brothers (mostly graduates from Cambridge) on an equal footing. They openly and honestly discussed with them every aspect of life without any taboos.
During their lives Vanessa and Virginia not only acted as a glue and caring “mothers” for the group but developed very successful careers as a painter and a writer. 
Many people think the group was “privileged and perverse”. Group members definitely were talented and provocative.
Dorothy Parker said it geometrically “They lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”. 
Was it the charm of the bohemian Bloomsbury that inspired their imagination and their open mindedness? 
Was it possible that the intimate beauty of Gordon Square, its safe greenness and its peculiar yellow paths influenced their lives? 
One thing is for sure – there was no other place on the earth wherе The Bloomsbury Group could be born. 


  1. Love it! xx

  2. Колко е хубаво да научиш нещо интересно! Пак ми се ходи в Лондон, като във вица от 20 век…

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