‘It was pretty awful being in London without any money. Drabness swallowed you up, very quickly.’

– Jean Rhys, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie

‘It was the darkness that got you. It was heavy darkness, greasy and compelling. It made walls around you, and shut you in so that you felt you could not breathe. You wanted to beat at the darkness and shriek to be let out. And after a while you got used to it. Of course. And then you stopped believing that there was anything else anywhere.’

– Jean Rhys, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie

‘Paris seemed, and had seemed the loneliest city under heaven. And whoever prolongs his sojourn in that city – who tries, that is, to make a home there – is doomed to discover that there is no one to be blamed for whatever happens to him.’

– James Baldwin, Another Country

‘Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night.’

– Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

‘Amrita had a dual attitude towards large cities. She hated their greyness and by implication their inhumanity, and at the same time she could not do without their stimulation… Her distaste for big cities went hand in hand with the fact that she felt at home in them. She seemed to seek solitude in the midst of the din and clang of people.’

– Yashodhara Dalmia, Amrita Sher-Gil A Life

I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life

– Frank O’Hara, extract from Meditations in an emergency