Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Shakespeare's Sister

Tlon is a fantastic second hand bookshop in the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre where I have discovered many treasures. I noticed today that there is a bust of Virginia Woolf in the shop, which I thought was highly appropriate given the author's imagining of a fictional Shakespeare's sister who 'killed herself one winter's night and lies buried at some crossroads where the omnibuses now stop outside the Elephant and Castle' . The context, in her book A Room of One's Own, was a reflection on the difficulties a woman writer would have faced at that time and were still facing in her time.

Virginia Woolf would have known the area as she used to teach English literature and history at Morley College, just up from the Elephant and Castle, before the First World War. Towards the end of her novel Orlando, the heroine, having undergone multiple transformations over several hundred years, drives through the area: 'The Old Kent Road was very crowded on Thursday, the eleventh of October1928. People spilt off the pavement. There were women with shopping bags. Children ran out. There were sales at drapers' shops'.

Whatever the future holds for the Elephant & Castle will it include a cool bookshop with a Virginia Woolf statue?

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