Reading, Video and Travel Tips for the Bloomsbury Group

By Kathleen Dixon Donnelly

The Relationships in the Group:

Whitney Chadwick and Isabelle de Courtiviron. Significant Others:  Creative and Intimate Partnerships. London:  Thames and Hudson, 1993.

Contains chapters on the relationship between Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant as well as Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West, and other creative couples throughout history. 


Leon Edel. Bloomsbury:  House of Lions. Philadelphia and New York:  J. B. Lippincott, 1979.

Not great, but one of the first books about the group as a whole.


Richard Shone. Bloomsbury Portraits:  Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Their Circle. Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1976.

Excellent text as well as great reproductions of their work. 


George Spater and Ian Parsons. A Marriage of True Minds:  An Intimate Portrait of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. London:  Jonathan Cape and the Hogarth Press, 1977.

A good look at the relationship between the two.


Virginia Woolf

Quentin Bell. Virginia Stephen, 1882-1912, and Mrs. Woolf, 1912-1941. Vols. I and II of his Virginia Woolf:  A Biography. London:  Hogarth Press, 1972.

His uncle Leonard asked him to write it and he did a great job. 


Phyllis Rose. Woman of Letters:  A Life of Virginia Woolf. London: Pandora, 1986.

Rose was the first to even mention anorexia as a cause of Virginia’s illnesses (and then only in a footnote). This biography is a more feminist view than others and includes interesting critiques of Virginia’s novels as well. 


Vanessa Bell

Frances Spalding. Vanessa Bell. London:  Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1983.

In writing about Roger Fry, Spalding discovered Vanessa and was fascinated enough to write this definitive biography. 


Lytton Strachey

Michael Holroyd. The Unknown Years and The Years of Achievement. Vols. I and II of his excellent Lytton Strachey:  A Critical Biography. New York:  Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968.

This is the definitive biography which the film Carrington is based on.  


Leonard Woolf

Selma S Meyerowitz. Leonard Woolf. Boston:  Twayne  Publications, 1982.

Not much has been written about Leonard on his own, but she shows him to be very interesting in his own right.


Leonard Woolf. Sowing, Growing, Beginning Again, Downhill All the Way, and  It’s the Journey Not the Arrival that Matters. Harcourt, Brace and World from 1960 to 1969.

Leonard’s five volumes of autobiography are excellent accounts of, not only his life, but the world around him at the time.


Roger Fry

Frances Spalding. Roger Fry:  Art and Life. London:  Elak/ Granada and Berkeley:  University of California, 1980.

Excellent biography of interest beyond art history. 


John Maynard Keynes

Robert Skidelsky. Hopes Betrayed, 1883-1920; The Economist as Saviour, 1920-1937; and Fighting for Freedom, 1937-1946. New York:  Viking Press.

The definitive Keynes three-volume biography. He was so enthralled he bought Keynes’ house down the road from Charleston.


Video tips:

Carrington, with Jonathan Pryce and Emma Thompson.

Excellent film about the relationship between Lytton Strachey and his partner, Dora Carrington. The beginning scenes show the Bloomsbury group at Vanessa Bell’s Sussex house, Charleston, where it was filmed.


The Hours, with Nicole Kidman and Miranda Richardson.

Oscar-winning film version of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer-prize winning book about Virginia Woolf writing Mrs. Dalloway, and two American women affected by it in the 1950s and 1990s.


Travel tips:

The private homes where the Bloomsberries lived, throughout London, are still private, but you can find the addresses easily thanks to the blue plaques on most of them.

Charleston, where Vanessa Bell hosted from World War I on, and Monk’s House, where Virginia and Leonard Woolf lived, are both open to the public in Sussex. Hours vary at different times of the year, and it is best to have a car or a friendly taxi driver. The Charleston Literary Festival in May is well worth planning your trip around [].

The house in St. Ives where Virginia and Vanessa vacationed as children is now a B&B [], and yes, you can see the lighthouse from there.

Some of the paintings of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry are on exhibit at Tate Modern, the Tate Liverpool, and the Courtauld gallery, but unfortunately, most of Vanessa’s are held in storage.

One thought on “Reading, Video and Travel Tips for the Bloomsbury Group

  1. Pingback: Members of Bloomsbury Group were SuchFriends « Blogging Woolf

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