Lonely Planet review
From 1834 until his death in 1881, the eminent Victorian essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle dwelt in this three-storey terrace house, bought by his parents when it was surrounded by open fields in what was then a deeply unfashionable part of town. The lovely Queen Ann house – built in 1708 – is magnificently preserved as it looked in 1895, when it became London’s first literary shrine.
It’s not big but has been left much as it was when Carlyle was living here and Chopin, Tennyson and Dickens came to call.
Carlyle unsuccessfully soundproofed his attic room from the hullabaloo of street criers, organ grinders and Italian ice-cream sellers and against this acoustic backdrop penned his famous history of the French Revolution. The first chapter was inadvertently tossed onto the fire by John Stuart Mill’s maid; the stoic Carlyle took up his quill and wrote it again.
The family managed to get through 32 maids in as many years (one was an old soak who collapsed comatose in the hall, blocking the door, while another went into labour in the China room).