Plaques, memorial gatherings, tourist itineraries and pilgrimages – many practices in everyday culture are about pinning lives to a specific place. When someone famous lived or died near or in a place that is now a commercial establishment, the history of that famous person will be immediately taken up to attract more people. But in London, writer Francesca Wade found a square that accommodated not one but at least five famous lives, and it doesn’t appear like it’s been exploited for tourism. The catch is, these famous people were all women.
Wade’s phenomenal research, which apparently took three years, fleshes out the lives of five writers as much as it is possible, with many letters and diaries deliberately destroyed as these women tried to curate the way they will be remembered. The book (see The Guardian’s review here) was included in the list of compulsory literature for my non-fiction writing diploma course at Cambridge in order to show us an example of using research. Last week we were also offered an opportunity to meet Wade herself and ask questions.
In September, I had a chance to go to London again – this time to attend an inspiring seminar on promoting women′s entrepreneurship, which was organized by the European Commission and the UK government (summary). In addition to lots of new ideas, I found new Twitter accounts to follow, as the government agencies involved in this seminar, as well as the entrepreneurs who made speeches seem to be quite active on Twitter. One regret that I had was that there was some essentialization of women (women-run business reportedly being more community-oriented and less profit-driven). This appears to be backed by data, but it is always good to explain how these trends come about. Continue reading →
London happens to make an excellent escape for spring each time. When spring comes, people hurry to wear summer clothes, which always looks really extreme to my eyes. It reminded me of Gothenburg in many ways. People seem to appreciate every sunny day.
This time I went to explore London’s areas that I hadn’t visited before, and experience more of its cultural life. Continue reading →
London has become such a usual travel destination for Central and Eastern European people that it would be difficult to surprise them with anything. Cheap flights to most European countries allow going there for business or for pleasure separatly, without the urge to explore everything possible in one go, and some people already go there only for shopping, or academic events, or to visit friends. There used to be stories of commuting doctors. The city, obviously, is so huge and diverse that whatever patchwork of stories you may have heard before, they will not come together to a coherent entity. As I went to visit there for a second time, my goal was to challenge some of the initial not-so-positive impressions and to finally experience the legendary cultural life to its fullest. Continue reading →