I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gracechurch Street

I walked back to the hotel via Gracechurch Street. It was a little out of the way, but -- this is a little embarrassing -- I'd never walked down it before.

Since I can recite entire pages of Pride and Prejudice by heart, and Gracechurch Street is the home of the infamous "uncle in Cheapside" who had made his fortune in trade, and therefore, according to Mr. Darcy, doomed the Bennet girls from marrying men of any consideration in the world, I don't know why curiosity never brought me there before. I've made many literary pilgrimages in London; I've been to Keats's house  and Dickens's house and Samuel Johnson's house and Thomas Carlyle's house. I've sought out the house where the Stephen children first lived when they fled to Bloomsbury, and where Leonard and Virginia Woolf lived when they came back from Richmond. I saw where Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes lived when they were still married and where she lived, and died, alone. Not to mention houses inhabited by George Eliot, Jonathan Swift, Henry James and Elizabeth Gaskell, all on one street in Chelsea.

But I never looked for fictional addresses (okay, with the exception of 221B Baker Street); I wanted to see where actual writers lived. But I couldn't have been more excited to see Gracechurch Street this afternoon if Jane Austen's ghost had been providing the commentary.

There's not much left that Uncle and Aunt Gardiner would recognize, apart from a pub and a couple of buildings around Leadenhall Market, but I whispered a hello to them anyway.

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