Edward Arnold has been a media lecturer for the last eighteen years and enjoys film, TV and travel. He has a particular interest in London, especially Bloomsbury where he started life’s great journey. Edward has, since unravelling the mysteries of his past, wanted to share his passion for the Bloomsbury area and has finally found the time to achieve this.
The journey to writing this book began as a tale of self-discovery. My mother was an Irish immigrant who arrived in Bloomsbury in the mid-1950s with little more than hand luggage to her name and a will for a new and better life. Between 1956 and 1977, both my mother and her aunt worked as residential maids at the once neatly named Cranston’s Ivanhoe Hotel, now less neatly named The Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel in Bloomsbury Street. The hotel was, for a long period, their home. My Italian father was a chef at the nearby Warwick Hotel that is now The Cheshire Hotel in Great Russell Street.
I was born at the University College Hospital in 1964 and baptised at The Church of St Anselm and St Cæcilia on the east side of Kingsway, near Holborn Station. The early part of my life started at 27 Montague Street, now The Museum Hostel, directly opposite the east side of The British Museum. Originally built in the nineteenth century for the well-off middle classes, during the 1960s this house accommodated not so well-off, hotel domestic staff. Mothers had to battle up two flights of stairs before arriving at their cramped and basic living quarters. With little government support in those days, being a single mother on a minimum wage and despite her best efforts my mother, sadly, could no longer support me. She did the single most selfless thing a mother could do, and by 1970 I was fostered and eventually adopted.
I was adopted by the most caring and loving parents a child could ever wish for and grew up outside of London. I grew up with a thirst for exploration and once I was old enough my inquisitive nature took me further and further afield. Throughout my twenties I travelled the world before I met the love of my life. In typically adventurous style, we went backpacking together and got married on Easter Island, Chile in 1993. Soon after settling into a blissful married life, I returned to university and studied to become a media lecturer.
Some years ago, I decided to go on a personal quest to reconnect with my past: a past that, for many years, I had often thought about. Boarding a train one unusually mild January morning and disembarking at St Pancras, I realised that Bloomsbury, this tiny fraction of one of the world’s greatest cities, was special, but it would be some time later before I truly understood why.
Despite my numerous stays over the years I am as fascinated by Bloomsbury as ever and have come to rely on the fact that it never ceases to surprise and inspire me. So, for that reason, I would like to share with you this very special part of London. My aim is to turn a place that you have heard of into a friend that you will want to visit.