• LOCATION 3 | 'Such Friends': Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group

    Number 46

    Just ahead is another gate, leading out of the garden. Let’s pause here for a minute.

    Standing here, you can see most of the buildings that the Bloomsbury group lived in during their years in Gordon Square.

    Just to your right, you'll see number 46, with the black door and plaque. That's where Vanessa Stephen, then 25, moved her brothers and her sister, Virginia who was just 22. It was in the autumn of 1904, after their widowed father had died. Vanessa saw this as a release from the dark old house they had been brought up in, just off Hyde Park.

    Their brother Thoby started having ‘at homes’ on Thursday evenings, when his friends from Cambridge University would know that he would be ‘at home’ for them. His sisters would sit quietly while university men like Lytton Strachey and Clive Bell, also in their 20s, would knowingly discuss ‘the nature of good.’

    And then, in November of 1906, big, strong, athletic, strapping Thoby…died. Aged 26. They had all been on a disastrous trip to Europe, and everyone had gotten sick. Thoby’s typhoid was misdiagnosed, and in a few days, he was gone. They were all devastated. Two days after Thoby’s death, his friend Clive Bell proposed—again—to Vanessa. And this time she said ‘yes.’

    Clive moved in here, and Virginia and her other brother, Adrian, moved over to Fitzroy Square, which we’ll visit later.

    For now, turn to the left and walk a little way up Gordon Square.

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'Such Friends': Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group