The Bloomsbury group has long divided opinion. To some they are a privileged elite, unoriginal and self-absorbed. To others they are at the vanguard of modernism, decades ahead of the social, moral and artistic codes of the day. Leonard Woolf wrote that the Bloomsbury group were “A largely imaginary group of persons… with largely imaginary characteristics”. This series of talks strips back the layers of mythology surrounding the Bloomsbury group and goes back to source – to their books, essays, articles, letters and diaries. This is the Bloomsbury group in their own words.
How it works
You will be sent an email in advance of the talk with a link, login details and readings for on the day. Simply log in, settle down with your tea or coffee, and immerse yourself in literature, thoughts and ideas with our reader-in-residence Holly Dawson.
Sessions will also be available on-demand so you can watch whenever is most convenient for you.
‘I could feel ecstasies and raptures spontaneously and intensely and without any shame or the least sense of guilt, so long as they were disconnected with my own body.’ (Virginia Woolf)
What role did the body play in the thinking, painting and writing of the Bloomsbury Group? In this session, we explore the corporeal realm of the Bloomsbury Group – from body image and nudity to food, illness and death. We’ll consider the Cartesian split between body and mind, placing the spotlight in particular on the embodied writing of ballerina Lydia Lopokova, Roger Fry’s kinetic descriptions of working with clay, Vanessa’s nude portraits at Studlands, and the contrasting crossover with NeoPaganism and Vorticism. We will trace ideas back to the Victorian connotations of the body they inherited, in particular Julia Stephen’s work as a nurse and a model. To what extent is the female body in particular a site for politics, creativity and identity?
Angelica Garnett (far left) with Duncan Grant, Virginia Woolf and Lydia Lopokova having a tea party in the Charleston garden in the 1930s. Photo © The Charleston Trust.