[Vwoolf] Chelsea in "Jacob's Room"

Stuart N. Clarke stuart.n.clarke at btinternet.com
Sun Jun 18 04:14:07 EDT 2017

JR is often so lacking in information/context that one is tempted to fill it out on very shaky evidence.  Where does Florinda live?  We don’t know, yet Winifred Holtby could write in her book on VW in 1932 that “Florinda was, though in a Chelseaesque and amateurish way, a prostitute” (129).  This is presumably because there is a brief ref. to Chelsea: “Now Florinda wept, and spent the day wandering the streets; stood at Chelsea watching the river swim past ...”

A few paras later, “when Florinda got home that night she first washed her head ...”.  In her Harcourt edn, Vara Neverow annotates: “Florinda would not have had running water in her lodgings; most likely she washed herself with water from a basin and pitcher” (244).

My father was born in Pimlico in 1898: “The [poor] mothers of Pimlico gave suck to their young” (Mrs. D).  After the war, his and his first wife’s families lived in Chelsea.  On 25/12/29 (when he married), he was living at 45 Cadogan St, the flat above the shop on the corner:

I find from Zoopla that it is (now) a 3-bed flat, last sold in April 2011 for almost £2m, and (now) estimated at £3m.  I’d give my eye-teeth to live there – but not £3m.

When my father lived at no. 45, he rented it, there was no bathroom and only an outside lav.  He was delighted to get away from Chelsea at the beginning of 1937, and never wanted to move back.

So, if Florinda really did live in Chelsea, we can assume Vara is right.

We are a long way from the Hilberys’ residence in “Night and Day”.

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