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Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars

Category: Book
By (author): Wade, Francesca
  HISTORY / Military / World War II
Publisher: Crown
Published: April 2020
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 432
Size: 9.25in x 6.12in
Our Price:
$ 38.99
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*"A beautiful and deeply moving book."-Sally Rooney, author of Normal People

An engrossing group portrait of five women writers, including Virginia Woolf, who moved to London's Mecklenburgh Square in search of new freedom in their lives and work.

"I like this London life . . . the street-sauntering and square-haunting."-Virginia Woolf, diary, 1925

In the early twentieth century, Mecklenburgh Square-a hidden architectural gem in the heart of London-was a radical address. On the outskirts of Bloomsbury known for the eponymous group who "lived in squares, painted in circles, and loved in triangles," the square was home to students, struggling artists, and revolutionaries.

In the pivotal era between the two world wars, the lives of five remarkable women intertwined at this one address: modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and author and publisher Virginia Woolf. In an era when women's freedoms were fast expanding, they each sought a space where they could live, love, and-above all-work independently.

With sparkling insight and a novelistic style, Francesca Wade sheds new light on a group of artists and thinkers whose pioneering work would enrich the possibilities of women's lives for generations to come.
Review Quote*"A fascinating voyage through the lives of five remarkable women . . . moving and immersive."-Edmund Gordon, author of The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography

"Elegant, erudite, and absorbing, Square Haunting is a startlingly original debut, and Francesca Wade is an author to watch."-Frances Wilson, author of Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

"Outstanding . . . I'll be recommending this all year."-Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Café

"I much enjoyed Francesca Wade's book. It almost made me wish I belonged to the pioneering generation of women spoiling eggs on the gas ring and breaking taboos."-Sue Prideaux, author of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche

"In following the lives of these five extraordinary women, Francesca Wade pursues questions about love, community, friendship, and intellectual work in times of crisis."-Sally Rooney, author of Normal People

"Excellent . . . Wade draws connections on a grander scale, exploring shared experiences of community, crisis, and creativity. The result is an impressive debut that puts her firmly on the literary map." -Lucy Atkins, The Sunday Times

"Square Haunting is at once a tribute to Virginia Woolf's powerful concept of a woman's need for a room of her own, and an exploration of the contradictions and messy compromises so often involved in fulfilling that need. . . . A very readable and enjoyable book."-Margaret Drabble, The New Statesman

"Endlessly interesting, unshowy, tightly argued and large-hearted. . . . The women's characters and situations leap off the page, helped by the kind of details-from interior décor to what they wore-that bring prose alive. . . . Wade reframes half a century of supposedly familiar literary and intellectual history and illustrates everything Woolf meant by ‘a room of one's own'."-Aida Edemariam, The Guardian

"Wade's book rises above the publishing clichés to tell a deeper story about women's autonomy in the early 20th century, about their work and education, politics and activism. What emerges is an eloquent, pellucid, sometimes poignant study of five female intellectuals, each of whom disdained convention to fulfil their potential as thinkers and writers."-Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Observer 

"In this serious, stylish first book Francesca Wade offers five snapshots of women who wrote, lived, loved, smoked, and fried single eggs in Mecklenburgh Square. . . . It is a pleasure to fall into step with the eloquent, elegant Wade as she stamps the streets of literary London. I would give a copy to every young woman graduating from university and wondering who and how to be."-Laura Freeman, The Times

"Original and erudite. . . . Wade is adept at evoking the gritty texture of the times, taking us seamlessly from the interior lives of her subjects into the world they inhabited and back again. . . . Wade distils half a century of social and literary history into these five women's lives with a marvellously light touch. This is biography as fresh and engaging as you are likely to find."-Ariane Bankes, The Spectator

"Square Haunting is an elegant, meticulously researched evocation of time and place."-Annalena McAfee, The Financial Times 

"Gripping. . . . A compelling study of the quest for creative freedom. . . . Wade is an astutely empathetic storyteller who never lets her considerable research get in the way of her elegant writing." -Ann Kennedy Smith, The Times Literary Supplement

"A bold account, not just of its subjects, but of the time and space they shared. . . . This book is a tribute by a gifted young female writer to five remarkable predecessors." -Anne Chisholm, The Telegraph
Biographical NoteFrancesca Wade has written for publications including the London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, the Financial Times, the New Statesman, and Prospect. She is editor of The White Review and a winner of the Biographers' Club Tony Lothian Prize. She lives in London.