I have a friend who lives in Kentish Town across the street from a blue plaque for George Orwell. Every time she looks out her living room window she’s reminded of literary history.
London is full of these blue plaques which honor people who have lived in the decorated building. There are plaques for Frances Hodgson Burnett, Mahatma Gandhi, Robert Graves, Boris Karloff, T. E. Lawrence, A. A. Milne, Keith Moon, Vincent Van Gogh…the list goes on and on and each one more interesting than the last.
They also honor a large contingent of Americans who lived in London as well: Benjamin Franklin, Jimi hendrix, Herman Melville, Sylvia Plath…
We have fewer blue plaques in our neck of the woods. Though closer to Highgate there is one for Peter Sellers.
And yes, like any other self-indulgent, pretentious writer, I do dream of my own blue plaque decorating my house some day.
In order to be eligible for an English Heritage blue plaque, I read that a person must have been dead for twenty years or have passed the centenary of their birth. (I’m willing to wait.) They must also be considered eminent by a majority of members of their own profession (Who can I bribe?), have made an outstanding contribution to human welfare or happiness (do my children count, and can we skip this morning when I sounded like a bullhorn?), be recognizable to the well-informed passer-by or deserve national recognition (Oh, dear…).
And in the case of foreigners and overseas visitors, candidates should be of international reputation or significant standing in their own country.
I think I’ll just plant some rose bushes.
photo by flem007_uk