Bohemia in London
Background to Bohemia in London
In 1906 Stefana Stevens – later the novelist E S Stevens and, as Lady Drower, an authority on Middle Asian folklore – was working for the literary agent Curtis Brown. She approached Ransome with the proposal that he write an “essayistical sort of book” about Bohemia in London, comparing the present with the past. She already had a publisher lined up for it. Ransaome took little persuading: by the next morning he had sketched out a synopsis, and within two days Curtis Brown had a contract ready for him to sign. Even more impressively, Curtis Brown then sold the unwritten book to Dodd Mead & Co, in America. The contracts secured respectable royalties and advances from both the British and American editions.
Ransome wrote Bohemia in London at his rooms on the King’s Rd, Chelsea, at the London Library, and at Wall Nook Farm, Cartmel. It was completed by July, 1907, and published as “a stout grey volume, looking like a real book, of which I was extremely proud.”
In many respects this is Ransome’s first real book, some 19 chapters and nearly 300 pages in length. Chapters include, An Arrival in Bohemia, A Chelsea Evening, Coffe-houses About Soho, Old and New Fleet Street, and Talking, Drinking and Smoking. Bohemia in London was illustrated by Fred Taylor, whose advertising posters for W H Smith had caught Ransome’s eye.
Published by Chapman & Hall Ltd, September 1907.
- Out of Print
“There’s a book that ought to be written, and you are the one who ought to write it…”