“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, August 7 and 8, 1921, Charleston Farmhouse, East Sussex, England; and Monk’s House, Rodmell, England

Art critic Clive Bell, 39, is at Charleston Farmhouse which he shares with his estranged wife, painter Vanessa Bell, 42, their two sons, Julian, 13, Quentin, about to turn 11, and assorted other family members and lovers.

Clive is writing to his current mistress, Mary Hutchinson, 32, back in London:

Nothing could exceed the monotony of life at Charleston except the pleasantness of that monotony…One comes down to breakfast as much before 10 as possible, hopes for letters, kills a wasp, smokes a pipe, contemplates nature, writes til lunch, reads the Times, goes for a walk, drinks tea, reads Proust, shaves, writes [a letter]…dines, lights a fire, smokes a cheroot, reads the Grenville memoirs, smokes a pipe, reads Proust, goes to bed. Sometimes it rains.”

Mrs. St. John Hutchinson by Vanessa Bell, 1915


About 10 miles away, at Monk’s House in Rodmell, Vanessa’s sister, novelist Virginia Woolf, 39, is quite unwell and has been losing weight. The sales of her latest book, Monday or Tuesday, are good, and she has started sleeping a bit better, without medication. But her current doctors have her on horrible “milk cures,” which she can’t abide.

Virginia has been unable to do any writing or see any guests for about two months, and confides to her diary,

What a gap! Two whole months rubbed out—These, this morning, the first words I have written—to call writing—for 60 days.”

Virginia Woolf by Vanessa Bell, 1912

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available in print and e-book format on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

2 thoughts on ““Such Friends”: 100 years ago, August 7 and 8, 1921, Charleston Farmhouse, East Sussex, England; and Monk’s House, Rodmell, England

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