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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury and the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury People

What is the Bloomsbury Project?

The Leverhulme-funded UCL Bloomsbury Project was established to investigate 19th-century Bloomsbury’s development from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life

Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, with Dr Deborah Colville as Researcher, the Project has traced the origins, Bloomsbury locations, and reforming significance of hundreds of progressive and innovative institutions

Many of the extensive archival resources relating to these institutions have also been identified and examined by the Project, and Bloomsbury’s developing streets and squares have been mapped and described

This website is a gateway to the information gathered and edited by Project members during the Project’s lifetime, 1 October 2007–30 April 2011, with the co-operation of Bloomsbury’s institutions, societies, and local residents

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

Thackeray and his wife Isabella moved to 13 Great Coram Street in March 1838, though Thackeray continued to spend some time in Paris, where he had been based as a correspondent for the Constitutional newspaper (The Letters and Private Papers of William Makepeace Thackeray, vol. 1, 1945)

He gave up the house in “dismal Coram Street” (letter of August-September 1840) in May 1843, by which time his wife had attempted suicide and was being looked after in various medical establishments in France and from 1845 in Camberwell, south-east of London

He subsequently lived with his two daughters, and at times with his mother and stepfather, in various addresses in Paris, Brompton, and Kensington

Thackeray places a number of characters in his novels and stories in Bloomsbury addresses

‘The Bedford-Row Conspiracy’, published in the New Monthly Magazine in 1840, is a story about lawyers who live and have their chambers in Bedford Row, the main street in London for solicitors’ and barristers’ chambers, owing to its proximity to the Inns of Court

In Vanity Fair, published in 1847–1848 but set in the 1810s, Thackeray sets the homes of his two upwardly mobile merchant families, the Osbornes and the Sedleys, in imposing houses in the newly developed Russell Square; he makes a private joke in chapter 56 about Mr Todd, one of the clerks to Mr Osborne, living in Great Coram Street, which “trembled and looked up to Russell Square”

For more general biographical information about William Makepeace Thackeray, see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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