The International Brigade

Posted on January 02, 2016 by Andrew Kershman

Jubilee Gardens, SE1
Sculptor Ian Walters, Bronze, 1985

The Spanish Civil War that raged between July 1936 and April 1939 captured the interest of the world and divided opinion between those of the left and right.  The war was between Spain’s elected Republican government and the Nationalist forces of General Franco who were supported by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.  Western governments did not come to the Republic’s defence and it was left to the Soviet Union to establish the International Brigade.  The Brigade attracted nearly 60,000 volunteers from 55 countries to fight for the Republican cause including around 2,000 British volunteers.  They experienced physical hardship, but fought bravely alongside the Republican army against the better equipped Nationalist forces.

The Brigade initially enjoyed some success with the defence of Madrid in November 1936.  Divisions soon, however, emerged within the Brigade, as Nationalist forces continued their advance.  In September 1938 the International Brigade was disbanded by Spain’s Republican government in an attempt to win the support of western democracies.  The attempt failed and in April 1939, just five months before the start of the Second World War, Franco declared victory.
This monument is in memory of the British men and women who volunteered for the International Brigade, of whom 526 gave their lives in the struggle.  The monument is a wonderful figurative piece by Ian Walters, who also made the bust of Mandela further along the south bank.  Many participants in the Spanish Civil War regarded it as part of the wider struggle against fascism and went on to fight bravely in the world war that followed.

excerpt from the  latest edition of London’s Monuments, which features all of London’s major public monuments.

This is an extract from the latest edition of London's Monuments, which features all of London's major public monuments. Available from our website at £2.00 of the RRP (recommended retail price)


Posted in

The Warburg Institute

Posted on December 08, 2015 by Andrew Kershman

University of London, School of Advanced Study
Woburn Square, WC1H 0AB
020 7862 8949
Goodge St and Russell Sq LU
Access restricted to postgraduate students and researchers

This exceptional library is dedicated to European cultural history, and is based upon the collection of the German banking heir, Aby Warburg. Warburg dedicated his life to the study of human expression and the transmission of ideas across space and time. For this purpose he compiled and organised a library of around 60,000 books. After Warburg’s death in 1929, the threat posed by the rise of the Nazis led to the migration of the library and institute to London. After the Second World War the Institute was incorporated into the University of London and since 1958 has been housed in a purpose built building on Woburn Square. Over the years the Library has grown to include over 350,000 books, with a Photographic Archive containing 350,000 photographs.
The Library and Photographic Archive were the research tool from which Warburg developed his last and unfinished work, the Mnemosyne Atlas. The Atlas constitutes an attempt to represent the theory and history of human expression from Ancient to Modern times, as well as the migration and transformation of images with considerable emphasis on the afterlife of mythology.

The classification of the Library was meant to sustain Warburg’s work. This has given rise to a taxonomy that involves four main categories: Image (art history), Word (language and literature, particularly the survival of classical literature), Orientation (religion, science and philosophy) and Action (social and political history). Within these categories books are arranged chronologically, rather than alphabetically.  This means that a researcher browsing the shelves is able to build up a picture of the evolution of a particular discipline. This might seem a bit confusing, but in practice, the appeal of the collection transcends these issues and the staff are always on hand to help track down a particular book.
Access to the Warburg Institute is restricted to postgraduate students, scholars and researchers by appointment. The institute is in the process of digitising as much of its collection as possible and has already produced 30,000 digital images and 8,000 electronic books, all of which are freely available online. The Institute also runs a busy programme of lectures, colloquia and seminars, which are open to the general public.

Posted in

The London Review Bookshop

Posted on December 06, 2015 by Andrew Kershman

14 Bury Place
020 7269 9030
Tottenham Court Road or Holborn LU
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-6.30pm, Sun 12noon-6pm



In 2003 the team behind the much esteemed literary publication, The London Review of Books, decided to open a bookshop.
They found the perfect location just around the corner from their Bloomsbury offices and a great deal of thought was put into getting the new shop to look and feel just right.  The final, simple, open-plan style of the shop is the work of the late Peter Campbell who designed many of the covers for the London Review over the years, and the high shelves, large hanging ceiling lights and plain wood floors still look good today despite the wear and tear of many years of success.

David Lea has been one of the team of  managers here since it opened and is acutely aware of the importance of atmosphere:

‘The key thing is making the physical shop a nice place to visit,
making it a different experience from shopping on the internet…
Here there are informed people to talk to and good books to look at and handle’


Manager Natalia De La Ossa and David work with four other full time booksellers to provide an excellent service with plenty of advice when required and a well chosen stock of fiction, history, biography, politics, travel and probably one of the best poetry sections in the country.  The London Review  of Books is one of the world’s leading literary publications, so it is no surprise that this shop is very aware of the latest releases and always has fascinating displays and recommendations.  There is a great deal to keep the visitor entertained on the ground floor of the store, but it is worth remembering that they also have a large and well stocked basement which is sometimes missed by the uninitiated.

The bookshop hosts about two literary events every week including books signings, poetry readings and frequent book launches. The shop also has a wonderful café which is always busy and serves delicious food and an extensive choice of teas and coffee.  The café is a favourite meeting place for London-based publishers and authors, and many books have been commissioned over lunch in these elegant surroundings.  It’s a welcoming place to relax and peruse your bookshop purchases.

Posted in

« Previous 1 12 13 14
Tweets by @metrolondon