Trafalgar Square--London, England

Trafalgar Square is a plaza located in London, England. The historical plaza that features monuments and fountains is nestled near the River Thames, Charring Cross and The National Gallery. The square is mentioned in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway as Peter Walsh walks around the city and reflects on his life. Throughout British history, the plaza has been the location of many protests, including pensioners, suffragettes, anti-nuclear, anti-war, anti-apartheid, anti-poll tax (Escobar 364).

Unfortunately, however, historians believe that the plaza’s political activity is now history; due to urbanization and progress within the nation, the political aspect of the plaza has faded into the nation’s past. This continual urbanization of society’s important landmarks “often fails to account for the ‘larger economic, political and cultural processes’ that shape them” (Escobar 365). The plaza has become an everyday experience for Londoners—just another part of their normal routines. This shift was slowly occurring from 1980 – 1990, but then took a drastic turn in 1999. In 1999, a contemporary sculpture was installed on the fourth plinth of the plaza as an attempt to reinvigorate the old plaza (Goldstein 1222). With this sculpture’s introduction, and the subsequent additions of other modern sculptures, a location of historical London was replaced with modern London.

Trafalgar Square during Virginia Woolf’s time, however, was still an area of political activity and historical significance. Peter Walsh, Mrs. Dalloway’s former friend and lover, is overwhelmed by “standing alone, alive, unknown” in Trafalgar Square in Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (Woolf 1137). This is an interesting statement of juxtaposition: in a location where people are typically in large groups supporting one another during political protests, Peter feels his most alone. In a plaza that housed fights for society’s most unknown, oppressed, and forgotten citizens, Peter feels a profound sense melancholy. Perhaps Woolf was already detecting the shift of urbanization and making a statement about society’s sad negligence of historical landmarks that should remind people of their society’s past trials and tribulations.


Additional Resource 

“Trafalgar Square - London Landmarks.” YouTube, uploaded by LondonLandmarks, 21 July 2012,

 Works Cited

Escobar, Maria Paula. “The Power of (Dis)Placement: Pigeons and Urban Regeneration in Trafalgar Square.” Cultural Geographies, vol. 21, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 363–387. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/1474474013500223.

Goldstein, Joseph L. “Juxtapositions in Trafalgar Square: Tip-Offs to Creativity in Art and Science.” Nature Medicine, vol. 19, no. 10, Oct. 2013, pp. 1222–1226. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1038/nm.3329.

“Trafalgar Square.” Greater London Authority Accessed 9 Dec. 2020.

Woolf, Virginia. "Mrs. Dalloway.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The  Major Authors, Ninth Edition, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, et al. (s), W.W. Norton & Company, 2013, pp. 1109 – 1217.


Latitude: 51.508039000000
Longitude: -0.128069000000