It was one of those lovely sunny Spring evenings, when you really feel that winter is over. The sort of evening just made for a stroll down Lamb’s Conduit Street, and into my favourite bookshop.
Persephone Books is more than just a bookshop. I was after a copy of the latest Dorothy Whipple novel, High Wages. You won’t find it in Waterstones. Persephone is first and foremost a publisher, dedicated to republishing those gems from the 20th century that have fallen out of print.
As I chatted to the sales assistant about the latest Persephone news (sadly, they’re planning to close their Notting Hill branch), a table of postcards caught my eye. Persephone Postcards, to be precise. Persephone commissioned artist Ann Usborne to produce these charming watercolours of local scenes, from bustling red-brick Russell Square tube station to the elegant Foundling Hospital on Brunswick Square.
The Foundling Hospital (now museum) is a drop of Bloomsbury history that touches the heart. It was founded by sea captain Thomas Coram in 1739, to care for the hordes of unwanted London children who would otherwise have faced a very uncertain fate. The charity established by Captain Coram still exists today, known simply as Coram. The charity supports local families, and my walk past the Coram playground this
evening was punctuated by the happy sound of children’s laughter, as families came to collect their children. What a difference 300 years makes…
Rugby Street is just round the corner from Persephone, on Lambs Conduit Street. It boasts a nice Italian restaurant on the corner, and leads down to Great John Street, where thriller writer Dorothy L Sayers lived and wrote her stories of detective Lord Peter Wimsey.
Bedford Square is in the heart of Bloomsbury Set Bloomsbury, and is now home to hordes of academics and students from University College London, many of whom were out enjoying the sunshine, stretching out on the rather damp grass with the insoucience of youth. I liked the bicycles in the postcard; in real life the railings are punctuated by dire warnings that bikes will be removed and destroyed.
Naturally, I bought a set of the postcards, and asked if I could display them on my blog. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.