The Flâneuse Diaries
'As we step out of the house on a fine evening between four and six, we shed the self our friends know us by and become part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers, whose society is so agreeable after the solitude of one's own room.'
- Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting (1930)
In her essays and diaries, Virginia Woolf celebrated the sense of freedom she found in walking the streets of London alone, a female wanderer and observer of the city. 100 years later, The Flâneuse Diaries invited women from present-day Bloomsbury to follow in her footsteps.
This participatory writing project invited 25 women to take up the challenge of becoming 21st-century 'flâneuses': wanderers, observers and writers of the city. Starting out from Bloomsbury's Academy Hotel, 25 flâneuses were given diaries and disposable cameras, and asked to write, draw, or otherwise record their impressions of Bloomsbury over the 5 days of the festival.
The diaries revealed a range of Bloomsbury experiences: notes on chatting with strangers in the park, walking alone at dusk, memories of lovers, celebratory solo glasses of prosecco, musings on pigeons, and much more, building up a multi-voiced portrait of Bloomsbury seen through the eyes of its women.
Created by Elizabeth Dearnley and researcher and curator Michael Eades for the 2018 Bloomsbury Festival, and supported by the University of London's Leading Women project, The Flâneuse Diaries was an offshoot of their ongoing project The Secret Diary of Bloomsbury (and via the Supernatural Cities Research Group's 2019 Magical Cities conference grew into Elizabeth's eerie anthology Into The London Fog).