Introduction: Writing Bloomsbury’s Trajectory
This book explains how the West Central London district known as Bloomsbury underwent a gradual transformation in the nineteenth century from social marginality to intellectual centrality, which was mediated through fiction. It traces the contours of Bloomsbury’s changing cultural imaginary before 1904, when Virginia Woolf (née Stephen) moved into the neighbourhood. Woolf was the most significant literary member of the early twentieth-century coterie of intellectuals and artists that came to identify themselves with Bloomsbury’s streets and squares, and hence became known as the “Bloomsbury Group.” But writers had a strong interest in Bloomsbury long before the “Bloomsbury Group” phenomenon. In Nineteenth-Century Fiction and the Production of Bloomsbury, the evolution of the neighbourhood’s identity in the 100 years that preceded Woolf’s residency there is presented as a sequence of definitions and re-definitions that were not only reflected in literary representations in this period but performatively enacted by them.