Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Babington. Idyllic English provincial village in which Miriam lives until she is eighteen years old, when her father’s bankruptcy forces her to leave in order to earn money to help support her family. She leaves behind a provincial life of safety, her parents, and her three beloved sisters, to seek her fortune in Germany. Dorothy Richardson based the village on Abingdon in England’s Berkshire district, where she herself was born.


*Hanover. German city to which Miriam goes to work as a governess after her father’s bankruptcy. Germany represents such a challenge in language and culture to Miriam that she returns to England after a single year, sadder but wiser, and depressed by her lack of achievement. Pointed Roofs, the title of this chapter volume, refers to the pointed roofs of Hanover.


*London. Capital of Great Britain that throughout the novel plays the most significant role in shaping Miriam’s cultural and psychological life. Miriam first goes there from Germany to become a teacher in the “backwater” of north London (hence, the title of the second chapter-volume, Backwater). There she teaches in a school run by three spinster sisters. The name of their school, Banbury Park, is an oblique reference to Richardson’s own experience of teaching in north London’s Finsbury/Barnsbury Park district. Mirroring Richardson’s experience there, Miriam is discouraged by the region’s mean streets and the harsh, snarling voices of north London residents. Again, a contrast of cultures looms unpleasantly and frustrates Miriam’s...

(The entire section is 678 words.)