A while ago we wrote about the history of St. James’s and Ryder Street, where our gallery is located. You can read about the history here.
Today we thought we would revisit the subject and focus on a particular historical figure who has a connection to Ryder Street: Jonathan Swift. Swift was an Anglo-Irish author known for his satirical prose and his celebrated novel, Gulliver’s Travels, published in 1726.
In 1712, Swift moved to a Mrs. Hubbots in Ryder Street. The single room ‘up two pairs of stairs’ cost six shillings a week.
He wrote, ‘I lodge over against the House in little Rider street where Dd lodge.’ ‘Dd’ refers to Esther Johnson and Rebecca Dingley. Both of these women have served as the subject of historical intrigue to scholars. A Journal to Stella, published posthumously in 1766, includes 65 letters written between 1710 and 1713 to Esther, whom he called Stella, and whom he may have secretly married. Rebecca, Esther’s companion, was also the recipient of several of these letters.
There is little to be found out about Mrs Hubbot or about the exact whereabouts on Ryder Street where Swift stayed. Nevertheless, this colourful anecdote from literary history brings character and life to the area!