|The Fitzroy Tavern--today more of a sidewalk café.|
|If these walls could talk... They can't, of course, but they do display photos of some of England's greatest literary masters talking...and drinking.|
|Nina Hamnett, ca. 1915,|
|London's Fitzrovia--little changed from the time Nina Hamnett staggered about.|
|Even the London Blitz couldn't put a damper|
on the fun and games at the Fitzroy.
|The Fitzroy today is kind of like a literary "sports bar."|
|Dancing, 1919, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska,|
based upon a real life episode atop
a table in a Paris bistro.
|Laughing Torso, 1932,,|
|The books that made the Fitzroy|
|Nina Hamnet's "Laughing" Torso|
by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska,
whom she later married.
Although very much the "life of the party," Nina Hamnett's party life at the Fitzroy does not end well. If one of her literary friends had made her the main character in a novel, the ending would have been branded by critics as "predictable." She became an alcoholic (or perhaps had always been one). Though mostly a decorative artist (fabrics, fashion design, and the like), much of her reputation was based upon her skills as a writer. Both her books, Laughing Torso (1932) and Is She a Lady? were bestsellers in both England and the U.S. A biography, Nina Hamnett: Queen of Bohemia, by Denise Hooker was published in 1986. Hamnett died in 1956 after falling from her apartment window and being impaled on the fence some forty feet below. Her final words, "Why don't they let me die?" suggests her death may have been a suicide. In 2011, Hamnett was the subject of a short film by writer/director Chris Ward, What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor.
|The Fitzrovia section of London (thought not called that at the time) was also home to Charles Dickens. Miss Havisham from Great Expectations is said to have been|
based upon a local resident.