Happy International Women’s Day! My apologies that I have not posted in awhile–it’s been a crazy few weeks! I’ll be catching up on my travels, starting with my fantastic weekend in London with one of my favorite people, Paige! Like me, Paige is an English major at Wellesley (though she also majors in Chemistry) studying abroad this semester. She came down from Dublin to England the last weekend of February, and we explored London together. Our journeys around the city led us to memorials, portraits, and places of many female writers, a topic that feels very fitting for today!
We started at Buckingham Palace, the home of Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family. Paige and I brought out our Will Byers figurines to pose together!
Next, we headed to Westminster Abbey, perhaps the most important church in England. We especially loved Poets’ Corner, where many famous British authors are buried or memorialized. I was very excited to find a stone in memory of the Brontë sisters!
As avid Harry Potter fans (and Quidditch players!), we had to visit Platform 9 and 3/4’s, the Kings Cross destination created by J. K. Rowling. We waited an hour to take our pictures at the Platform, but it was worth it to “board” the Hogwarts Express!
Paige laughed in front of the Palace Theatre, the home of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as we are a bit critical of the play.
Then, we went to the National Portrait Gallery, a free museum filled with paintings of famous figures in British history. We found many women writers there, including George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Jane Austen!
We took a picture of our Wills with William Shakespeare (because why not?).
Here I am in front of the only portrait made of Jane Austen while she was living, a miniature created by her sister Cassandra. The painting was almost tinier than my hand!
I found the Brontës again at the National Portrait Gallery. It was super exciting to see this portrait of Anne, Emily, and Charlotte, painted by their brother Branwell (who erased himself from the image, as you can see his sillouette in the background), because I’ve been looking at it for years online. I made Paige take way too many photographs of me in front of the portrait–these are just two of them.
Meanwhile, Paige discovered a painting of Dorothy Hodgkin, the famous British chemist. We felt it only fitting that we take a picture of Paige in front of the portrait.
The gallery had a special exhibit in honor of 100 Years of Women’s Vote in Britain. We loved this image of Christabel Pankhurst, the famous suffragette.
And, naturally, I took a photograph with this portrait of Virginia Woolf, painted by her sister Vanessa Bell.
On Saturday, we made our way to Primrose Hill, a beautiful area in Regent’s Park that was home to many writers. Among them was Sylvia Plath, Paige’s favorite poet. We spent a lovely morning there, visiting two houses that Sylvia lived in and the telephone box where she supposedly made her last phone call before she died.
The second house Sylvia lived in was actually first the home of the poet, William Butler Yeats.
We told one of our favorite teachers, Professor Brogan, that we made a visit to Primrose Hill. She provided us with a quote from Sylvia on the neighborhood: “When I came to my beloved Primrose Hill, with the golden leaves, I was full of such joy.”
We found, though the visit was melancholy, that we agreed with her.
Of course, Paige and I had to buy volumes of Sylvia’s poetry at Primrose Hill Books.
Then, we made our way to Hyde Park, visiting the Marble Arch and Kensington Gardens along the way!
Paige enjoyed her Plath on a park bench.
Though we encountered many important and beloved women on our trip, I was the happiest to see Paige in a city we’ve both dreamed about for years. Thank you, Paige, both for coming to see me and for inspiring me every day! I miss you so much already!