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November 7, 2019
by Bloomsbury International

Bloomsbury’s Bigwigs: Remembering the Icons Who Walked These Streets

‘Bloomsbury’. The very word means something to every person reading this. For some of us, it is a school we have attended for a few weeks (or even a few months!). For others, it is where we have made international friendships, or taken our first steps towards living abroad. However, as the blue plaques on buildings in the area remind us, we at Bloomsbury International are in no way the only famous (?!) people to have been here. Indeed, throughout history, the area of Bloomsbury has been home to many prolific authors, musicians, and artists, who were inspired by the area, where they also formed important friendships. In fact, if you care to design your own walking-tour, you can find the past homes of some of its most notable residents. Here are a few to get you started:

1) J.M. Barrie: The writer who created ‘Peter Pan’ initially lived at Guilford Street and 8 Grenville Street. In his novel, Barrie imaged Bloomsbury to be the location of the Darlings’ home, where the character Peter Pan first met Wendy. If you wander along Grenville Street, you can find a plaque marking where Barrie once lived.
Handy Hint: If you don’t know much about ‘Peter Pan’, Disney adapted Barrie’s novel 1953, and it’s a quick and easy way to find out the story of this British children’s classic.

2) Charles Darwin: If you have a look around, you should find a plaque dedicated to ‘Charles Darwin Naturalist’, where he rented a house at 12 Upper Gower Street in 1838. Much of Darwin’s theory of natural selection was thought up while he lived in this house.

3) Charles Dickens: Dickens, considered by some to be one of the greatest English writers resided at multiple locations in the Bloomsbury area, including at 14 Great Russell Street, Tavistock Square, and 48 Doughty Street. Today, in Holborn, there is a Dickens Museum at his former Doughty Street residence, which is where he wrote his works ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ – definitely worth a visit!

4) John Maynard Keynes: This British Economist lived for 30 years at Gordon Square, where a plaque marks his residence at number 46. Keynes was a member of the ‘Bloomsbury Group’, a group of English intellectuals, writers, and artists who lived, studied, or worked near Bloomsbury in the early 20th Century. At 51 Gordon Square there is an additional plaque commemorating the Bloomsbury Group.

5) Bob Marley: While not a long-standing resident of Bloomsbury, the Jamaican musician Bob Marley lived at 34 Ridgemount Gardens for several weeks in 1972.

6) Virginia Woolf: Another member of the Bloomsbury Group, Virginia Woolf, a popular author lived at several locations in Bloomsbury, including at 29 Fitzroy Square, Brunswick Square, and at 52 Tavistock Square where she wrote her novels ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘To The Lighthouse’. However, it was when she moved to 46 Gordon Square that she became involved with the Bloomsbury Group and embraced the area of Bloomsbury, which she has written about as a place where she believed a person could ‘bloom’ like a flower.

7) William Butler Yeats: The Irish poet Yeats lived at 5 Woburn Walk from 1895 – 1919 (then known as 18 Woburn Buildings). The area was not at all fashionable at the time, though today it is a popular pedestrian street. Apparently, Yeats used to keep an open house every Monday evening, where the famous American poet, Ezra Pound often visited and would hand out Yeats’s wine and cigars as if it was his own house!

While these are only a few of the residents who have walked the streets we walk today, as you enjoy your time at Bloomsbury International, we hope that you too explore the area; and as you explore you make friends as long-lasting as those made by Yeats or Keynes, that like Woolf you find happiness in being here, and that like Darwin or Dickens or Marley you discover the same inspiration to remember and to be remembered by Bloomsbury for years to come.

October 24, 2019
by Bloomsbury International

Green Secrets in London

It is safe to say that London is one of the greenest cities in the United Kingdom, full of parks. You could find nearly 500 green spaces all over the centre of the capital of England. You’ve probably been to the most common ones, but you might have missed a few hidden gardens, quiet yards, spooky cemeteries or public farms on your way to school!

So, would you like to get a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of the noisy city? Are you keen to just relax? Here is a list of three parks nearby that you should visit.

1. Abney Park Cemetery

The estate of the park once had Abney House on it which served as the home of Isaac Watts. Today, it is a public garden cemetery and an arboretum (a garden containing lots of types of trees). If you wish, you can visit the stunning gothic chapel in the middle, or meet over 200 000 people buried under unique-looking graves. However, if you get hungry, do NOT go mushrooming. The plants of the park are probably filled with arsenic and lead from the Victorian era.

Location: 215 Stoke Newington High St, Stoke Newington, London N16 0LH

2. Hackney City Farm

The city farm was founded in the 1980s to create a community where young people could gain experience with animals. To this day, it serves as a place that invites children to get used to nature: trees, plants, fruit, and vegetables. Also, it motivates them to create a friendly environment that cares for animals. You can meet a variety of lovely farm animals including donkeys, rabbits, goats, sheep, and even butterflies. Their chickens are also kept in natural conditions, which gives you the opportunity to buy free range eggs.

Location: 1a Goldsmiths Row, London E2 8QA

3. Barbican Conservatory

Located on Level 3 at the Barbican Centre, this conservatory is the 2nd biggest one in the whole of London. The tropical jungle is more than 2000 square metres, full of juicy plants and flowers. If you’re watchful enough, you could even encounter some exotic fish.
Are you feeling British or fancy? Both? Invite your friends and family for an afternoon cup of tea at the venue, enjoying cake specialties as well, made from organic fruit and herb grown in the Conservatory. Make sure you book tickets for this. Otherwise, general admission is free.

Location: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS

4. Primrose Hill Park

I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.
-William Blake, English poet

Primrose Hill is a park area on a hilltop more than 60 metres above sea level. It doesn’t matter whether it’s winter or summer, from there, you can have an unusual and extraordinary view of London. How often do you actually look at the sky in the city? Be honest! It’s hard to focus on it if all the streets of London are so packed and crowded. Primrose Hill Park, however, is the perfect spot if you want to enjoy a stunningly wide and clear skyline during the day or at night.

If I can give you one piece of advice, as you are walking towards the top of the hill, do not look back at the view. Only turn around once you’ve reached the peak.

Location: Primrose Hill Road, London NW3

October 11, 2019
by Bloomsbury International

Shakespeare’s Globe

How do you feel when you hear the word Shakespeare? Are you scared? Do you have any interest in his theatre, or have you already got bored? Do you know a lot about it?
Well, please tag along if you dare and find out some intriguing facts that you may not know about Shakespearean Theatre – and its links to London.

1. Shakespeare was not only a playwright: he was also one of the owners of a theatre, called the Globe. This theatre was located in London, on the south bank of the river Thames.

2. During a performance in 1613, the roof of the Globe caught on fire and the whole building burned to pieces. Thanks to a number of enthusiasts however, the theatre was rebuilt and was open again in a year’s time.

3. In Shakespeare plays, you can tell how a character feels emotionally by counting the syllables/beats per line. If you count more than 10, the character doesn’t feel at ease, is rather upset, and something troublesome is happening. The situation can get worse or more annoying as this number increases.

4. There weren’t any directors in Shakespeare’s time, so he also had to put every stage direction and instruction for the actors into the text. He gave a lot of detail: he even included how exactly the performers had to move on stage and what objects they had to use when they were acting.

5. Regarding characters’ appearances, actors didn’t normally use historically accurate garments. They chose clothes that were modern and fashionable at the time. So if they were performing a play about ancient Romans, they wouldn’t wear ancient Roman clothes: they would wear the clothes that people wore in Shakespeare’s own time!

6. Audience members weren’t always as well-behaved as nowadays. At the time, a lot of them were terribly grumpy and bad-tempered. They weren’t afraid to shout loudly during performances if something wasn’t happening to their taste, or to shoulder each other after enjoying several mugs of ale.

7. Don’t be afraid to read Shakespeare! Just make sure you get an edition that includes modern notes, making it easier to comprehend. If you do, check that it is from a credible source, so you’re actually reading the ‘real stuff’, and not a present-day playwright’s words. Enjoy Shakespeare’s juicy words, celebrate them!

8. In the past, people paid only a penny for a standing ticket in the Globe. This might not sound like much money, but wages were so low then that this was the amount of money they earned in an entire day! If people wished to sit comfortably in the balcony, it cost them a lot more, so this option was only available for the richer individuals.

9. You can visit the modern Shakespeare’s Globe in London today! And if you want to do this cheaply, you can get standing tickets for just £5. Watch out though – the weather might be bad, and umbrellas aren’t allowed. If you want to watch the plays in more comfort, you can sit on wooden benches under the roof for between £20 and £50.

You now know a lot of background information when it comes to Shakespeare, so why not actually treat yourself to a ticket and have the experience of a lifetime?