Features

LONGER POSTS ABOUT THE STRAND

Göttingen and the Strand: Publishers and Princes

What connects Somerset House and King’s College London in the Strand with the University of Göttingen in Germany? The answer, it turns out, is a combination of the Royal House of Hanover and the movements of an enterprising eighteenth-century Dutch publisher. The current Somerset House was begun in 1776 in the reign and under the…
Maureen Duffy

Windows on Maureen Duffy from 2015

Maureen Duffy is a playwright, poet, novelist and biographer—her output totalling some 34 published works to date. She was an undergraduate at King’s College London in the 1950s, which she subsequently re-imagined as ‘Queen’s’ College London in her novel Capital (1975). King’s now hosts her archive, and the Strand Campus windows feature a biographical installation dedicated to…
The empty King's Shop in November 2017

The changing face of (academic) retail

I worked at King’s College London for seven years, and I was a student there a long time before that. I have many memories of interesting projects at the College, but this post is about one in particular—in 2009 I helped to build a new retail space for the university on the corner of Surrey…
The Christmas tree goes up in Somerset House courtyard

The Strand in November

A set of photographs taken by Clare Brant, showing the Christmas tree being assembled in Somerset House courtyard, and remembrance poppies on display in the window of Coutts bank.
A balloon

Balloon on the Strand

The history of crazes is an enormously rich subject. We seem to be in the middle of a craze for fidget spinners, of which all sorts of varieties are on sale in the Strand. In 1784, the Strand was a key location for what became, for two or three years, a mad craze for balloons…
A Strand shop window

Souvenirs on the Strand

A recent walk along the Strand in search of fidget spinners led me to start thinking about souvenirs. Sadly the Strand doesn’t feature in London-themed merchandise – it’s not as cool as the other big streets. A couple of years ago I asked a souvenir seller why he didn’t have items with the Strand? He…
Constance Collier and Ellaline Terriss

From the Electrophone to the Xbox Kinect: Remediating the Gaiety Girls

In my last post I described how the Strand’s Gaiety theatre became famous as the home of the Gaiety Girls. Under the stewardship of impresario George Edwardes the Girls changed the face of London’s theatre world while helping to lay the groundwork for modern celebrity culture. In this post I want to focus on two…
The cast of The Shop Girl in an 1895 souvenir programme © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

‘Gaiety George’ and the Making of Modern Celebrity

During the 1890s and 1900s the Strand’s Gaiety theatre played host to a string of dazzlingly successful shows featuring the ‘Gaiety Girls.’ For the project Moving Past Present I invited artist Janina Lange to ‘reanimate’ two of the Gaiety’s best-known stars, Constance Collier and Ellaline Terriss, as digital avatars. The process of researching their lives…
King's College London Main Building ~1830

Victorian Lives Revealed

King’s College London has employed some of the great and good from the academic world over its 188 years but there are many members of staff, academics, technicians, clerical and domestic, who are less well-known or not known at all. A joint project between King’s College London Archives and University of the Third Age (U3A)…