Living with Strangers : Bedsits and Boarding Houses in Modern English Life, Literature and Film book cover
1st Edition

Living with Strangers
Bedsits and Boarding Houses in Modern English Life, Literature and Film

  • This format cannot be shipped to your selected country.
ISBN 9781350139459
Published November 28, 2019 by Routledge
200 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Living with Strangers examines the history and cultural representation of bed-sitting rooms and boarding houses in England from the early twentieth century to the present. Providing a historical overview, the authors explore how these alternative domestic spaces came to provide shelter for a diverse demographic of working women and men, retired army officers, gay people, students, bohemians, writers, artists, performers, migrants and asylum seekers, as well as shady figures and criminals. Drawing on historical records, case studies, and examples from literature, art, and film, the book examines how the prevalence and significance of bedsits and boarding houses in novels, plays, detective stories, Ealing comedies, and contemporary fiction and film produced its own genre of narrative. The nine chapters are written by an international range of established and emerging scholars in the fields of literary studies, art and film history, political theory, queer studies and cultural studies. A lively, highly original study, Living with Strangers makes a significant contribution to the cross-disciplinary field of home studies and provides insight into a crucial aspect of British cultural history. It is essential reading for students and researchers in anthropology, history, literary studies, sociology, gender and sexuality studies, film studies and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

List of ImagesList of ContributorsAcknowledgementsSeries preface: Why Home?, Rosie Cox and Victor BuchliIntroduction, Chiara Briganti (King’s College London, UK) and Kathy Mezei (Simon Fraser University, Canada)1. Aspidistras and Divans: Transient Spaces in the London Novel, 1920s to 1940s, Kathy Mezei (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Chiara Briganti (King’s College London, UK)2. Immortal Apples and Eternal Eggs: Life and Still Life in the Bedsits of Bloomsbury, Hana Leaper (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)3. Writing in a Bedsitter: Muriel Spark and Doris Lessing, Paul Delany (Simon Fraser University, Canada)4. In a Queer Room, 1900-1970, Mark Armstrong (Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, UK)5. Thieves in the House: Ealing Comedy and the Criminal Lodger, Michael Newton (Leiden University, Netherlands)6. Cold Rooms in the Post-War London Novel, Chiara Briganti (King’s College London, UK) and Kathy Mezei (Simon Fraser University, Canada)7. London’s Post-War Housing Crisis and Detective Fiction, Allingham, Christie, Marsh, June Sturrock (Simon Fraser University, Canada)8. Precarious Living in the Films of Ken Loach, Luke Davies (Tübingen University, Germany)9. Leave to Remain: Bedsits, B&Bs and Borders in Contemporary Fictions of Asylum, Emily Cuming (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)Index

View More



Chiara Briganti is former Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at Carleton College, USA and Visiting Research Fellow at King's College London, UK. Kathy Mezei is Professor Emerita at Simon Fraser University, Canada and Life Member, Clare Hall, Cambridge.


"Living with Strangers constitutes an imaginative, historically and culturally informed array of essays that depict life in bedsits and boarding houses during a crucial period of British literary and cultural history. - Maria DiBattista, Princeton University, USA Bedsits and boarding houses provided alternatives for those for whom, for a variety of reasons, the family home was not an option. Living with Strangers is an evocative account of alternative domestic spaces as represented in fiction, art, theatre and film. It gets to the heart of how, from the mid twentieth century onwards, social marginality in modern England was largely expressed by where and with what people lived. - Penny Sparke, Kingston University, UK This book is a valuable and original addition to the growing interdisciplinary literature on the home, and will be the first scholarly collection to look at bedsits and boarding-houses as a distinct social formation. - Victoria Rosner, Columbia University, USA"