Updated: Oct 19
I get it! You're in London and you thought it would be all Go Go Go! But for the moment and, let's hope it's brief, we are working in surroundings that are less than inspiring, the pot plant in the corner may have seen better days and your flatmates have been stealing your oat milk from the fridge, but you need to work somewhere! Perhaps there is a solution.
London has always had great public buildings with quiet inspiring spaces in which to contemplate, create and work. The most famous perhaps would be the grand circular Reading Room at the centre of the British museum, once home to the British Library, and holding many thousands of books. The great and the good often sought solace there, including : Oscar Wilde, Marcus Garvey, Virginia Woolf, Mahatma Gandhi and one character who got a reading ticket using the pseudonym "Jacob Richter" but is better known to the world as Vladimir Illiych Lenin. Today the space is sadly closed for study, having been given over to popular exhibitions, but there are many others to search out.
I have chosen a few to hopefully inspire you as they do me, whenever I'm am trying to write: The first and it's a secret so please don't share with too many folks is The Reading Room upstairs at the Wellcome Collection in Euston Road, besides being a stunner of a room double height with a gallery and very comfortable seating [yes, I once did nod off on a wintry afternoon] they have an esoteric collection of books and periodicals to read and lots of unusual objects on display, the death mask of Beethoven anyone? There is also a very good cafe in the building too!
Other notable places nearby are the Friends Meeting House which does a great range of homemade food at affordable prices and has very quiet tables [this is having a soft reopening so please check before you travel]
The aforementioned British Library, now in a fairly hideous 80's building down the road, but with great interior spaces and collections to peruse. Inside the library there is the great Ritblat Gallery of literary treasures, with The Magna Carta [ yes it has a copy in its own little room ] pieces of Jane Austen's hand writing [ very neat as you would expect ] and her writing desk ,and some original Beatles lyrics written on the back of Christmas cards . You can also hear historic spoken word from their sound archive by listening in to headphones on the walls .The poetry of Wilfred Owen read by Cecil Day Lewis is especially moving on a wintry day.
Also in the Bloomsbury area nearby is The Building Centre, home to exhibitions on the built environment and interesting workshops with a great cafe attached and some quiet spaces. It's also round the corner from a great new pizza place in a converted Art Deco garage called
Macellaio Rc Fitzrovia.
So don't sit there staring at the fading Yukka plant , go out and explore London. and then write your masterpiece!
Both the BL and Wellcome need you to book a time/place to visit, the Building Centre and the Friends Meeting House need your details for Covid track and trace when you arrive .
Wellcome Collection 183 Euston Road London NW1 2BEUK
British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB
Friends Meeting House 173-177 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BJ
The Building Centre, 26 Store Street , London WC1E 7BT