26 Mecklenburgh Square
The London Home of Mary Elizabeth Braddon in the 1860s

by
Jennifer Carnell

In 1862 the novelist Mary Elizabeth Braddon and her publisher John Maxwell moved into their new home at 26 Mecklenburg Square. Their first child, Gerald Maxwell, was born soon after. Also in the house was Braddon's mother Fanny and three servants. Within the first couple of months Fanny Braddon had to sack the cook for fiddling the grocery expenses and threatening to injure the baby's monthly nurse. Braddon and Maxwell lived in the house for some years and in 1866 moved to Lichfield House in Richmond.

A letter written by Braddon from 26 Mecklenburgh Square.

Early houses in the square with Blue Plaques for R.H. Tawney and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.

Because of renumbering in the twentieth century, 26 is not the same building as 26 today and some of the buildings in the Square have been demolished and rebuilt since the 1860s, and Braddon's house may no longer exist. I spent quite a bit of time in the Bloomsbury area when I was doing my PhD, as I was at London University in Russell Square.

The garden in the centre of the square.

When Mecklenburgh Square was built it was part of the estate owned by Thomas Coram's Foundling Hospital. The Foundling Museum, which is in a modern building, is in nearby Brunswick Square.

Bibliography and Recommended Reading:
Jennifer Carnell, The Literary Lives of Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Sensation Press, 2000). (The text above is adapted from a section in the biography.)
Robert Lee Wolff, Sensational Victorian: The Life and Fiction of Mary Elizabeth Braddon (New York: Garland, 1979).

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