“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, first week in November, Hogarth House, Richmond, London

The Woolfs are looking ahead to their upcoming weekend in the country with mixed feelings.

Virginia, 40, and Leonard, 41, who operate the Hogarth Press here, will be spending a couple of days at the Mill House, Tidmarsh, in Berkshire with three of their friends who live there together, essayist Lytton Strachey, 42; painter Dora Carrington, 29; and Ralph Partridge, 28, who has been the Hogarth Press assistant for the past year or so.

Dora Carrington, Ralph Partridge and Lytton Strachey

Carrington moved to Tidmarsh with Lytton about five years ago, knowing full well that he is homosexual; Partridge moved in after he met Carrington through her brother at Oxford. Last year, Strachey paid for their wedding and joined them on their honeymoon. The threesome rents the house from another Bloomsbury friend, economist John Maynard Keynes, 39.

Both Virginia and Leonard are protective of their home-based business, Hogarth Press, and this has led to many fights between Leonard and Ralph. But Ralph has refused to leave.

In many of her diary entries Virginia has referred to Ralph as “lazy, undependable, now industrious, now slack, unadventurous, all corroded by Lytton, can’t praise, yet has no view of his own,” and has questioned his “lumpiness, grumpiness, slovenliness, & stupidity versus his niceness, strength, fundamental amiability & connections.”

Recently, the Woolfs have been introduced to some young people who might be suitable additions, but Ralph was furious when they offered a job share to one woman.

In the past few weeks, they have been talking to a young American who was interested in managing the Press for them, but they think he’ll try to turn their publishing house, which is focused on turning out quality content, into a precious press that is more concerned with fancy paper and bindings. Fortunately, the young man has decided that the commute would be too onerous. Virginia didn’t want to hire an American anyway.

They’re hoping to discuss Partridge’s future this weekend with Lytton, who has hinted that he will no longer have Hogarth as his publisher if they get rid of Ralph. Virginia and Leonard are thinking that might not be a bad trade off.

Tidmarsh by Dora Carrington

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I through III, covering 1920 through 1922 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in print and e-book formats. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, and about The Literary 1920s in Paris and New York City at the Osher program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can 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 also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, May 20, 1921, Grosvenor Gallery, Bond Street, London

The opening of the “Nameless Exhibition” here, sponsored by The Burlington Magazine, has caused a bit of controversy.

Poster for Nameless Exhibition by Roger Fry

The organizers, including Burlington founder and former editor Roger Fry, 54, and Professor of Fine Art at the Slade School Henry Tonks, 59, decided to make a brave move and hang a whole exhibit of paintings with no artists’ names attached. Not on the walls; not in the catalogue. They want to strike a blow against the cult of personality which has gathered around some artists.

Included are works by three of Roger’s Bloomsbury friends, his former lover Vanessa Bell, about to turn 42, her partner Duncan Grant, 36, and Slade School grad, Dora Carrington, 28.

Roger Fry by Vanessa Bell, 1912

Fry can’t wait to tell Vanessa that Tonks has hung one of her works, Visit, quite prominently, unaware that it is by a woman. Tonks goes on incessantly about how women painters are always imitating men.

Even though this is one of Carrington’s first important exhibits, all she is thinking about is her wedding tomorrow.

*****

Carrington has spent the past four years living with and in love with Bloomsbury writer Lytton Strachey, 41, at Mill House in Tidmarsh, Berkshire. Carrington is well aware that Lytton is openly gay, but he is fond of her and is providing her the literary education she lacked. In exchange she paints and runs the household.

About three years ago, into this lovely arrangement walked big, strong, Ralph Partridge, 27, an Oxford friend of Carrington’s younger brother. He’s fallen in love with Carrington and moved into Tidmarsh. And Lytton is interested in him.

Dora Carrington, Ralph Partridge and Lytton Strachey

Now that Ralph has gainful employment—working as an assistant at the Hogarth Press operated by Bloomsbury regulars Virginia Woolf, 39, and her husband Leonard, 40—he can afford to take a wife. Although Lytton is paying for the wedding.

Lytton has spent the past two months convincing Carrington to take the plunge. And the Woolfs approve also.

So Carrington has now agreed. She cries each night and writes Lytton long love letters. Ralph knows she’s not in love with him. Carrington feels this is the way to keep the three together.

Lytton is already in Venice. The newlyweds are going to meet up with him there in a few weeks on their honeymoon.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume 1 covering 1920 is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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.