Charlotte Mew, 30 Doughty Street

mew

One of the books I’m most looking forward to this year is Julia Copus’ new biography of Charlotte Mew. Here’s the talk she gave at the unveiling of Mew’s blue plaque; I was pleased that, when I went to visit for myself, someone had left the nursery window open (top left in the attic, with that odd-looking ventilation pipe next to it). The pipe suggests there might still be a bathroom up there: here’s Mew’s remembrances of baths at 30 Doughty Street, in the memoir she wrote of her family’s servant Elizabeth Goodman:

To us children she was as fixed a part of the universe as the bath (cruelly cold in winter) into which she plunged us every morning, and the stars to which she pointed through the high window, naming some of them, in  the evening sky.

‘As fixed a part of the universe as the bath and the stars’; every time I go back to Mew I’m reminded again of how contemporary she sounds.

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