Top 5 PLaces to read: Woolf

Top 5 things to do in Camden

As a member of the famous Bloomsbury group, Virginia Woolf was continually inspired by the city life flowing around her. Although she had been born in Kensington, her adult life was closely connected to the borough of Camden. In 1912 she married Leonard Woolf at what is now the Camden Town Hall on Judd street, and soon moved with him to 52 Tavistock Square. Here she wrote some of her best stories, inspired by the immediate surroundings of the borough. For Love Camden, our editor has collected some of her favourite stories from that period, and also picked some great places to read them. Get transported back to the times of Woolf, with our favourite Places to Read Woolf.


1.    The Waves (1931)

The Waves is a perfect read for a Sunday afternoon in Camden Town, sitting in the Lock Tavern watching the boats go by. While looking out over the city, this short novel (or ‘playpoem’ as Woolf called it) describes the lives of six friends as they explore adulthood and feelings of connection and community. Written in a flowing ‘train-of-thought’ style, it can be a little confusing sometimes to figure out who is who, but its many references to water and scenery go beautifully with the light sparking off the canal.  


2.    Orlando: A Biography (1928)

Woolf’s famous gender bending ‘love letter’ called Orlando: A Biography shows some of her most radical writing on gender, love, and the history of English literature. Classified as one of her more accessible works, Orlando is what you want to read while having a coffee in West-Hampstead, taking in the village-like scenery.


3.    To The Lighthouse (1927)

Rumour has it that Woolf used to walk around Tavistock Square contemplating the material for her novel To The Lighthouse, observing both herself and the people around her closely as a form of research. The novel is also suggested to be heavily influenced by the author’s own life and her relationship to her family. With that in mind, why not have a seat on one of the benches on Tavistock Square, close to Woolf’s statue and old home, and take in the atmospheres that must have provided inspiration for her.


4.    The Years (1937)

One of The Year’s most distinctive characteristics is a description of the changing weather over Britain, placed at the start of each section from a birds-eye perspective. Why not climb Primrose or Parliament Hill, find a quiet bench to sit, and dive into this history of a family that spans 50 years while looking out over the breathtaking views of London?


5.    Ms Dalloway (1925)

Walk around Fitzrovia and Tottenham Court Road, just like the main character Clarissa Dalloway does on the morning where the novel starts. Pop in and out of local coffee shops (for a list see our Top 10 Coffeeshops here!) and lose yourself in one of Woolf’s most famous stories.


Don't forget Camden has 9 public libraries where you can borrow books for free, find your nearest library here