• LOCATION 4 | 'Such Friends': Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group

    Numbers 37 and 41 Gordon Square

    You're now passing number 41, on the right. Many members of the Strachey family, including Lytton and his mother, made their home there, mostly in the 1920s. I'll tell you more about him soon.

    The last house on this block is number 37. In the 1920's, Vanessa Bell lived there with Duncan Grant. He was a fellow painter, and her lover at the time, although he was a few years younger than she was, and gay.

    For now, turn around and make your way back down the street, towards the main road where we started the walk. I'll tell you a bit more about Gordon Square as we walk down there.

    After the first world war, the Bloomsbury group played musical chairs with the houses here. Vanessa was mostly out in Sussex with her kids, so their friend, economist John Maynard Keynes took over the lease on number 46. Her husband Clive Bell hosted many of his mistresses there. The group gave lots of parties—a celebration when the Armistice was announced in 1918, a soiree for the visiting Russian ballet and Picasso the following year.

    In the 1920s, Keynes wrote to Vanessa about Gordon Square. He said, "if Lydia [his soon-to-be wife] lived in 41, and Duncan [his lover] and I lived in 46, you and family in 50, and we all had meals in 46, that might not be a bad arrangement…We all want both to have and not have husbands and wives."

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'Such Friends': Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group