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.
‘As for politics, I feel we are all sitting downstairs while someone slowly dies’ (Virginia Woolf)
‘I believe in aristocracy… Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them.’ (EM Forster)
“I can’t, can’t, get clear about politics” (Julian Bell)
From pacifism to suffrage, right wing leanings to Marxist dabbling, we explore the role of politics in the lives, relationships and work of the Bloomsbury Group. To what extent were their bonds and choices influenced by the changing politics of their environment? What role did individuals play in instigating change? What conflicts arose as members adopted different responses to war and cultural transformation in Britain? We will look at the impact of two world wars, atheism and intellectual beliefs in the shaping of Bloomsbury thought and consider the particular impact of members such as Maynard Keynes at Bretton Woods, the Strachey women in the realm of gender politics, Julian Bell’s death in the Spanish Civil War and the infiltration of right wing thinking into Bohemian London.
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.