The Bloomsbury Group

Virginia Woolf was the hub of a group of artists and writers known as the Bloomsbury Group, which was formed at the beginning of the 20th Century. They threw so many conventions overboard that, even today, people still talk, write and make movies about them.

The network of relationships in the Bloomsbury Group, illustrated by Rory Midhani

“They lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles,” quipped writer Dorothy Parker about the Bloomsberries. She had a point. Vanessa and Clive Bell’s marriage was an open one; they enjoyed a lifelong friendship and sometimes lived in the same house, even while Vanessa was having an affair with Roger Fry.

Then Vanessa lost her heart to the gay painter Duncan Grant, with whom she lived until her death, partly in their farmhouse Charleston, full of paintings and regarded by many today as their real masterpiece. In the beginning of their affair, they sometimes shared a bed, which resulted in the birth of their daughter Angelica, who was given the surname Bell because her mother had never bothered to divorce Clive Bell. Bell also recognized her as his daughter. Angelica was only told on her eighteenth birthday who her real father was, and she was hurt by the news. Later, from the age of 20 to 49, Angelica was with David Garnett, who was 26 years older than her, and who’d had a long relationship with her biological father. Garnett had even been present at her birth in 1918.

  • You can read the full article by Liddie Austin in issue 10, which is available in our webshop.
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