Bloomsbury is home of the British Museum, the largest museum in the United Kingdom, and several educational institutions, including University College London and a number of other colleges and institutes of the University of London as well as its central headquarters, the New College of the Humanities, the University of Law, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the British Medical Association and many others. Bloomsbury is an intellectual and literary hub for London, as home of world-known Bloomsbury Publishing, publishers of the Harry Potter series, and namesake of the Bloomsbury Set, a group of British intellectuals which included author Virginia Woolf, biographer Lytton Strachey, and economist John Maynard Keynes.
Bloomsbury began to be developed in the 17th century under the Earls of Southampton, but it was primarily in the 19th century, under the Duke of Bedford, that the district was planned and built as an affluent Regency era residential area by famed developer James Burton. The district is known for its numerous garden squares, including Bloomsbury Square, Russell Square and Bedford Square.
Bloomsbury's built heritage is currently protected by the designation of a conservation area and a locally based conservation committee. Despite this, there is increasing concern about a trend towards larger and less sensitive development, and the associated demolition of Victorian and Georgian buildings.