The latest MA blue plaque unveiling took place during this year’s Bloomsbury Festival. The plaque is to poet Charlotte Mew, at 30 Doughty Street, where Mew was born and lived from 1865 to 1890. The event was attended by numerous Mew ‘followers’ and unveiled by Mew’s current biographer, Julia Copus. Also attending was Mew’s surviving relative, 84 year old Heather Greetham.
Though little known today, or indeed in her own time, Mew has won critical acclaim for the ‘stillness’ of her work. Virginia Woolf called Mew “the greatest living poetess.”
According to the Poetry Foundation Mew’s life, “was full of tragedy from beginning to end.” Born into a family of seven children, she was the eldest daughter. While she was still a child, three of her brothers died. Later, another brother and then a sister were committed to mental hospitals in their twenties where they would spend the rest of their lives. Death, mental illness, loneliness, and disillusionment became the themes of her work.
From her 1914 poem The Fete …
The Marchmont Association is particularly grateful to three generous donors who helped fund this plaque, and to Goodenough College for graciously hosting the post-unveiling reception in their elegant building, which stands directly opposite No. 30.