Bounded by Euston Road, Gray’s Inn Road, Tottenham Court Road and New Oxford Street, Bloomsbury is a central district of London in many senses. Home to the Virginia Woolf and the rest of the Bloomsbury Set, the Pankhursts, and Edgar Allen Poe. Birthplace of Christian Socialism. Site of the British Museum, University College, RADA, the Friends House, the BMA, Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Bloomsbury is crammed with history and with contemporary decision-making. But there is also working class Bloomsbury and, now, Bengali Bloomsbury in the east. Biographer and novelist Nicholas Murray walks this crowded square mile or so, among the locals, the students, the tourists, alone or in the company of local characters, to give Bloomsbury the ‘Real’ series treatment of history, memoir and oblique approaches to the familiar. His entertaining and informative text is accompanied by equally unusual images, the sort you won’t find in either tourist guides or regular history books. All of which present Bloomsbury as it’s never been portrayed before: intimate, contemporary, exploratory and occasionally downright strange.
The ‘Real’ series includes the original Real Cardiff by series editor Peter Finch (2004), described by Jan Morris as “one of the best books I have ever read about a city”, plus Real Aberystwyth (2008) and Real Liverpool (2009) by Niall Griffiths.
Nicholas Murray is a professional author, reviewer and cultural commentator. He has written biographies of Bruce Chatwin (Seren), Andrew Marvell, Aldous Huxley and Kafka (all published by Little, Brown). His work also includes A Corkscrew is Most Useful: The Travellers of Empire (Abacus, 2009) and So Spirited a Town, a history of Liverpool (University Press, 2008). Among his novels are Remembering Carmen (2003) and A Short Book About Love (2001), both published by Seren. He lives in the heart of Bloomsbury, and researches at the British Museum (where he was a resident scholar) and the British Library.