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.
Love & sex
“Suddenly the door opened and the long and sinister figure of Mr Lytton Strachey stood on the threshold. He pointed his finger at a stain on Vanessa’s white dress.
‘Semen?’ he said.
Can one really say it? I thought and we burst out laughing. With that one word all barriers of reticence and reserve went down. Sex permeated our conversation. The word bugger was never far from our lips.” (Virginia Woolf)
The Bloomsbury group famously ‘lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles’ – but the myths, gossip and headlines of their personal lives can distract us from the far richer and more nuanced ideas around love, sex and relationships that informed how they worked and lived. This session explores how the transgression of traditional relationship models went hand in hand with their pursuit of a new and radical aesthetic. Decades ahead of the social and moral codes of the day, the fluid nature of their relationships has resonance even today. We look at the overlapping and complicated relationships within Bloomsbury and explore what part romantic and carnal love played within them.
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.