• LOCATION 6 | 'Such Friends': Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group

    Turn right and walk down Gordon Street

    In my research I found that in every group there were certain roles: There was always a ‘Star’—the one they all knew was the most talented, like Virginia Woolf. Each ‘Star’ had a ‘Hostess,’ like her sister Vanessa Bell, who took care of everyone in the group. The Earth Mother. And every group had an ‘Irritant’: And there was no more irritating person than Lytton Strachey.

    Lytton was a true British eccentric, with a high pitched voice and a long red beard. He drove them all nuts—but they loved having him around. Don’t we all know people like that?! He had affairs with his cousin, Duncan Grant, and Duncan’s lover, Maynard Keynes, and even proposed to Virginia once! But he thought better of it the next day.
    If you want to see an excellent depiction of Lytton, I recommend Jonathan Pryce’s performance in the film Carrington, about his long term relationship with the painter Dora Carrington, played by Emma Thompson. That’s your video tip for the week.

    To balance off the Irritant, every group also had an ‘Angel,’ someone who everybody just loved. In the case of Bloomsbury, it was the painter Duncan Grant. Aaaah, Duncan. They all loved him. Most of them even slept with him! He was a bit younger than the others, and had a certain innocence about him. He also lived until he was 93.

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'Such Friends': Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group