Mrs Dalloway’s London – the 101st Anniversary

(15 customer reviews)

Westminster Underground station, London (exit 4, opposite Big Ben)

Guided by David or Stephen

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
7 August 2024 Special 9.45 am 11.45 am Summer Reserve Online

Meet the most recent group of Mrs Dalloway’s London walkers. That’s Andrea holding my copy of the novel. His review of the walk – you can read it down below – is a tour de force. And this setting for the photograph because… well, let’s remember how Virginia Woolf opens the novel. The first sentence reads: “Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

INTRO FOR THE 101st ANNIVERSARY WALK

Here’s what’s special about this walk

Ok, the centenary anniversary is now history. But what I say below about the walk on that June day is 99 percent applicable to every Mrs Dalloway’s London Walk we do. The only exception being that we’re not hearing that bell exactly – to the second – 100 years after Mrs Dalloway heard it on that June day in 1923. We’re hearing it exactly (“the leaden circles dissolving in the air”) – to the second – 101 years after Clarissa Dalloway heard it.* But unpacking that moment – especially with the 101-year-old materials I’ve unearthed – Exhibition A, Exhibition B, etc. – is a significant part of the fun and wonderment and indeed revelation of the walk.

* 101 years and 56 days on the August 7th walk. Which we’ve put on at the special request of a Canadian Literature professor, who’s not here in the middle of June but is here the first two weeks in August. And why two Wednesdays in June? Because we know – from the novel – that the year is 1923. And that the month is June. And that it’s the middle of June. And that it’s a Wednesday. But there are of course two Wednesdays that fall near “the middle of June.” So we cover both bases.

Podcast for the 100th Anniversary Walk

What larks.

What plunges.

What a walk.

What a moment: “a particular hush, or solemnity; an indescribable pause…before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air…what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.”

“This moment of June” – Clarissa Dalloway’s walk at exactly that moment 101 years on – was what we were after. Both those times are now past. But we can give pursuit. And, yes, still hear that plaintive anthem as it fades. And in any case, was it just for the sake of the nice round number of the centenary? No. That moment, that walk – at any time – is much more important than that. In literary terms Mrs. Dalloway’s walk is the pathfinder walk, the walk into modernity, the walk into depths of understanding of the human mind, of who we are – of what makes us tick – that hadn’t been previously plumbed. That morning in mid-June, 1923 Mrs. Dalloway crosses a bourne that hadn’t been crossed before.

What’s more, as adumbrated above, it’s delightfully convoluted. Unpacking all of that is part of the fun. Whatever the day, we get the hour right – we start the walk at 9.45 am so we can hear Big Ben when Mrs Dalloway heard* it, hear those leaden circles dissolve in the air.

But the date – well, it was a Wednesday in the middle of June in 1923. There were two mid-month Wednesdays in June 1923. The great Virginia Woolf scholar Elaine Showalter favours the first of the two. I – Guide David – favour the second (for reasons I’ll make clear on the walk). But in any case, in the centenary summer we covered both bases. We did the walk on both those dates. Well, those dates 100 years on. Though I’ll be able to get you back to 1923 in lots of ways. I’ll show you things – extraordinary things, things that have bearing on Virginia Woolf and the novel – that haven’t been seen, by anybody, in 100 years. Yes, I know, that’s an extraordinary claim but I’m able to make good on it. Hint: you’ll see some of the material the literary historian in me has unearthed.

*Can we be sure she heard it? It’s going to be fun to watch your reaction when I untie the string round my documents portfolio, take those 101-year-old documents out, and set them before your eyes.

STANDARD INTRO

Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway is a tour de force. It is essentially a prose poem – arguably the most beautifully written novel of the last 100 years. Literary modernism reaches its peak of perfection in Mrs Dalloway – on that walk through London on that day in 1923. We walk with Mrs Dalloway. Walk her London. See it with her eyes.

The walk is guided by David. David is a literary historian.

David’s understudy is Stephen, a Royal Shakespeare Company actor. Just occasionally they double-team, they do it together.

In situ David* and Steve** read relevant passages to us. The words, the delivery, the setting – everything comes together. Special walk, special couple of hours. More than special – unforgettable.

*The distinguished scholar and critic John Sutherland described David as “one of the liveliest PhD students I ever supervised.” David (with a one word assist from a former Editor) describes David as:  “the Seigneur of this favoured realm, David broods over words, breeds enthusiasms and is “unmanageable.”* A balterer, literary historian, university lecturer, journalist, and lifelong thanatophobe, he’s also the London Walks ‘pen’ – he writes ‘the famous white leaflet’, let alone the document you’re reading (this website).”

**Fiercely intelligent, terrifyingly talented, distinguished actor. Royal Shakespeare Company, West End shows, lots of films, Sir Peter Hall’s Shakespeare productions, etc. Best ear ever. His impersonation of John Lennon is a resurrection. Doesn’t just guide Shakespeare, performs him. Brilliantly (on his Sunday afternoon Shakespeare’s & Dickens’ City walk – but see for yourself, here’s the video).

MRS DALLOWAY’S LONDON – THE PRACTICALS

The meeting point for the Mrs Dalloway’s London walk is just outside exit 4 of Westminster Tube. 

LONDON WALKS PRIVATE WALKS

If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, Mrs Dalloway's London – the 101st Anniversary it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Mrs Dalloway's London – the 101st Anniversary walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.

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LONDON WALKS – STREETS AHEAD!

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15 reviews for Mrs Dalloway’s London – the 101st Anniversary

  1. Candis McLean

    Transporting! David accompanies you back a century, providing factual context for Mrs. Dalloway’s fictional life — the widely-felt trauma in post-Great-War London, her larger-than-life neighbours who influenced history, Clarissa’s existential crisis and how it was solved….
    If you can, take David’s tour on your own or with your own small group, as I did, so you can ask lots of questions and discuss profound thoughts. Such a rare opportunity.

  2. Christoph Karner

    For me, David brought the novel to life. Without having read the book
    and, to be honest, without knowing anything about it, David made me want to read the book and learn more about it.

    And now I also know why the novel is so important.
    This is guiding and teaching at its best.

  3. David Tucker

    Let’s see if we can do something about that, Sue. Perhaps we can find a ‘peg’– an anniversary. Can you wait 11 months? We could, for example, run it on May 14, 1925. That would be 100 years to the day that Mrs Dalloway was published. That’s a Wednesday, so it’s a perfect fit with my schedule. And we could run it at a time that suits you. What do you say? If that date works for you what time would you like the walk to start?

  4. Sue Fisher

    I can’t go on this walk on a cheap day return train ticket because it’s too early. That makes it very expensive and therefore impossible..it’s such a shame.

  5. Susan

    David. I just have to say that you gave me the best tour of my life. I have said it over and over. I loved your enthusiasm, the large illustrations, that you moved right along, and of course the”surprise”!
    When we return in the future, I’ll certainly contact you again. Happy New Year to you and your lovely wife. Susan

  6. Paul E. Tierney Jr.

    We went with David and enjoyed every minute. Five of us ( three generations ) were all conversant with Virginia Woolf and Mrs Dalloway , but learned a great deal . David is well prepared and articulate, but he is also a kind, personable, friendly person to be with. Best guided walk I have had in a long time. Paul

  7. Lisbeth Boutang

    Best walk in my tour of walks. Compelling insights into both character and author. A lot of research and introspection went into David’s stellar tour. I had read the book at university 40 years ago. Still I dashed off and bought a hardbound addition to read with fresh relish. I appreciate his follow-up emails that add a friendly, permanent touch.

  8. Suzan Rogers

    Having gone on a number of these walks, the most memorable guided by David, I have found them all enjoyable, this one is a gem however and could too easily be dismissed as only of interest to literature fans. Rather this pulls together a wealth of British history, the impact of the First World War with its legacy not only of death but the trauma of loss, the significance of the British monarchy, the social milieu of the upper classes and cleverly, and through David’s extensive and unique research which he so graciously shares, links them all with the immersive prose of the novel Mrs Dalloway and the tortured life of its author Virginia Woolfe. The sounds and sights of London in the early 1920s are all here, from the booming of Big Ben in its majestic architectural setting to the peace of Dean’s Yard, to the jaw dropping moment in St James Park when we encounter Woolfe herself. This is the 100th anniversary of Mrs Dalloway’s party, you’re invited, don’t miss the fun, as Clarissa Dalloway would say’What a lark! What a plunge!

  9. Ann Kirkland

    My friends and I have taken nearly a dozen London Walks and recommend them highly to everyone we know who is visiting the city. While all have been *****, I wish to make special mention of David’s Mrs Dalloway walk. David brought Virginia Woolf’s masterful novel to life with his depth of knowledge and his engaging delivery. He has done a tremendous amount of personal research. His enthusiasm for the book is contagious. Whether you know the book well or have not yet read it, you will lose yourself in Mrs Dalloway’s morning walk. David also sent us a variety of terrific links.

  10. Jane Heitz

    I loved visiting the quiet streets and elegant buildings that I had thus far only known through the literature of the time. And there they were, right in front of us…with Mrs. Dalloway surely within.

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