Cliffords Inn, Fetter Lane, London, EC4A

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Revolution in Cliffords Inn__________________________________________________________________

The general election of 1906 resulted in a landslide victory for the the Liberal Party, which won 400 seats to the Conservatives' 129. For the first time, there were also MPs from the Labour Party, 29 of them. This was a serious embarrassment to the Fabian Society, which, ten years before, had decided to devote the proceeds of a considerable legacy to the foundation of the London School of Economics, and had turned down Ramsey Macdonald's request to support the founding of the Labour Party. This on the grounds that, given the dominance of the two major parties, this would be a waste of money and time.

On February 9th, H.G.Wells presented a paper "The Faults of the Fabians" to a packed meeting of the Fabian Society held in the hall of Cliffords Inn. He attacked the Society's insularity and complacency. He also attacked the "Basis" of the Society "For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did,.. and then you must strike hard...." He pointed out that Fabius never did strike against Hannibal - that was left to Scipio! He concluded with a proposal to raise membership from 700 to 10000, to publish a set of tracts to attract new members, to increase revenue, to give young members a more active role in the Society, and to establish local branches. He also urged that the Society should have three main objectives: the transfer of land and capital to the state, equal citizenship of men and women, and the substitution of public for private authority in the education and support of the young.

This paper was not very well received, and it appeared that the "Old Gang", Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Shaw and others, managed to obstruct and delay any radical changes. So eventually Wells left the Society.

Source: A Man of Parts by David Lodge

 

Virginia Woolf________________________________________________________________

As newlyweds in 1912, Leonard and Virginia Woolf had their honeymoon in Italy, and, on their return, rented rooms at 13 Clifford's Inn and took their daily meals at the Cock Tavern . Here are some of the letters she wrote from Cliffords Inn (with numbers from "The Question of Things Happening - the letters of Virginia Woolf, Vol ii, 1912-22, Hogarth Press 1976)

653 to Katherine Cox
13 Cliffords Inn, E.C.
November 1912
............I came in 2 minutes after you went waddling across London with about 6 parcels - 3 mutton cutlets, eggs, aa cake, and a pound of potatoes. We had dinner tonight off these, but I see cutlets must be hung before eating, and the heart stays blooded long after the outside is brown. Karin [Costelloe] came to lunch, old Cousins halfway through the afternoon, so I was late going out, thus missing Bru Cox; but she might name another day
The world offers so muchto say that I really can't even touch upon it in the remaining space especially as the geyser is alight.
Our servant shows extreme merit i not minding the sight of us naked which she has eveery morning. Indeed, this is the kind of thing I hear. "And your husband, Mrs Worsley - now what Society was he insured in? - A postman? O well - they must give him a rise after 5 years, in the Naval Reserve too" and all this with Leonard naked hin this bath - Mrs. W leaningon the W.C. door lookinga thim Yr. V.W.

Picture: Leonard and Virginia Woolf in 1912

651 to Lytton Strachey
13 Cliffords Inn, E.C.
16 November 1912
i ..Ottoline has been seen by several observers - not by me - passing through on her way south again, the golden streamers pendent from each ear, and trailing on the ground, amid a myriad of pointed foes' tails - so Leonard, who is not given to exaggeration, describes her.
We are sitting over the fire, in complete quiet, save for an occasional van down Fetter Lane - Leonard half way through an immense Blue Book on Divorce, upon which h has to write an artice, for that boozily officious man, Haynes.
London is very nice - a trifle too rackety, I agree - but we are off, thank God, tomorrow to Asheham, where we shall discuss the shepherd's morals. {Edward Haynes, 1877-1949, was a solicitor and moralist - in 1912 he published Divorce Problems of Today.

658 to Lady Ottoline Morrell
13 Cliffords Inn E.C
Friday [7 March 1913}
My dear Ottoline, We've promised to go to the Gills on the 22nd unfortunately; it would have been very nice to come down to you instead - I have the greatest difficulty in talking to artists and when they talk themselves its so philosophical and religious and profound.
We hope you will ask us again
London is very much like Hell and has been for the last 6 weeks. We disappear as often as we can to Asheham - however, London has a great charm too, especially the Strand. Are you coming back? What do you do. I suppose you've read every book worth reading, and I hope you begin to consider writing a book. - Desmond hqas them 3 at a irth. I am told awful stories of Molly and Desmond up at 5 writing for 6 hours at an open window to keep their heads fresh
Yr. affate
V. W.

669 to Lady Robert Cecil
13 Cliffords Inn E..C
17 May 1913
My dear Nelly, Its very bad luck but we are going to Asheham today. Perhaps you will ask us another time - at least that is what we hope But please come to teach again - I've just got some new curtains and rearranged the room - said to be a great improvement. The gentleman opposite has just got6 up in his pyjamas and fed his canary, while the student in the garrett has got about 20 pigeons sitting on the sill.
Yr. V. W.



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