Sigmund Freud Arrives in London for a Walk
Wednesday 29 October
15:00 – 17:00
Sigmund Freud arrived in London on 6 May. He and his entourage left Vienna on Saturday 4 May at 3 o’clock in the morning, by train, the Orient Express. There is a photograph showing Anna, his daughter, and Freud in a train compartment. His last short letter dated June 4, 1938, written in Vienna, is addressed to Arnold Zweig: ‘Leaving today for 39, Elsworthy Road, London N. W. 3. Affect. greetings Freud.’ In Paris, they rested at the home of Marie Bonaparte for twelve hours. They crossed to England by night on the ferry -boat to Dover. The Lord Privy Seal, Lord De La Warr, had arranged diplomatic privileges for their luggage, and with the railway authorities, that the train should come into an unusual platform at Victoria Station, to avoid any crowd or press.
The Superintendent of the Southern Railway and the Station Master of Victoria welcomed Freud and his family, who then departed quickly in Ernest Jones’s car, leaving Ernst and Anna to collect the large amount of luggage. Jones describes driving past Buckingham Palace, Burlington House, to Piccadilly Circus and up Regent Street, ‘Freud eagerly identifying each landmark and pointing it out to his wife’. He first stayed at 39 Elsworthy Road, Hampstead, a house with a garden rented by Ernst while looking for a more permanent home. Martha Freud and the maid Paula Fichtl moved into 20 Maresfield Gardens on 16 September, and Freud, who had been admitted to hospital for several weeks, joined them on 27 September.
We will meet at Maresfield Gardens, now the Freud Museum, where we will watch some archive films of Freud in London, and then walk to Elsworthy Road. Following trains of thought, we will take the Tube to Charing Cross, using the city as a model for psychoanalysis, as Freud so famously did himself, yes, with Rome, of course, but also with London, in Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1909), where he compares the monuments of Charing Cross and the Monument with hysterical symptoms, as mnemonic symbols.
We might then be like the unpractical Londoners he describes, for ‘not only do they remember painful experiences of the remote past, but they still cling to them emotionally; they cannot get free of the past and for its sake they neglect what is real and immediate’. Yet we are determined to address what is real and immediate, via the past and present structures of both the city and psychoanalysis. From Charing Cross we will walk to Victoria Station, pointing out the views enjoyed by Freud on his arrival, going back through Freud’s London… working back from the manifest content through a chain of connections (as in dream analysis). If time allows we would be delighted to return to Riverlight for a discussion with images (and drinks).