A Compendium of Literary Bloomsbury

The best bookstores, businesses and blue plaques in and around WC1. Click on the map to explore in more detail.

bloomsbury map

Dorothy Parker on the Bloomsbury Group:

“[They] lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles.”


London Review Bookshop  – Nestled in a cosy courtyard just across from the British museum, and within spitting distance of the Cordon Bleu culinary school, this bookshop is the gastro-bibliophile’s dream. Perfectly combining cakes, tea and books, it offers a whole array of distinct and intelligent literature ready and waiting to be consumed.

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Waterstones Gower Street – Often found crammed full with students and academics, the Waterstones opposite UCL offers an unbridled choice of new, secondhand and rare books. Covering subjects from travel and art to poetry and science to children’s and classics, there’s so much to look at that you’ll find yourself needing a coffee from the Costa’s nestled in the basement just to keep your stamina up! Also look out for the witty signage around the building.

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Persephone Books – A bookstore and publishers, specialising in forgotten gems of the past written by (mostly) female writers, has the most beautiful grey books, whose endpapers and bookmarks are plastered with a textile design from the era.
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Wellcome Library (and the Blackwell’s within it!) – With human vivisections, straight jackets and phrenology busts lining the space, the Wellcome library  doesn’t instantly strike you as being a calming space to read and ponder. However, as soon as you sink into one of the bean bags lining the stairs you realise what a relaxing book haven this is. Pick up a book (or two, or three…) at the adjoining Blackwell’s and while your afternoon away in one of the more distinctive reading nooks in the city.

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Virginia Woolf – the author who is synonymous with Bloomsbury has been afforded her own slice of Bloomsbury real estate. Sat across from Gandhi, the bronze bust of Woolf sits pride of place in Tavistock Square.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 15.27.45The Lamb – the only pub in London to still have a ‘snob screen’, this former haunt of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, means it has earned its reputation as the literary aficionado’s boozer of choice. However, they have yet to capitalise on the whole array of literary alcohol puns out there, I personally would love to order ‘A Rum of One’s Own’…..

(Happily I own the fantastic cocktail guide Tequila Mockingbird, so will have to settle for making this delight at home!)


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