Charleston

Adrian Stephen

The youngest of the four Stephen children, Adrian felt overshadowed by his father’s favourite, Thoby, and by his talented sisters Vanessa and Virginia.

The youngest of the four Stephen children, Adrian Stephen felt overshadowed by his father’s favourite, Thoby (who died in 1906), and by his talented sisters Vanessa and Virginia – both of whom are now better known by their married names, Bell and Woolf. After Sir Leslie Stephen’s death in 1904 the four siblings set up home together in Bloomsbury, London. Their house in Gordon Square became the original meeting place for the Bloomsbury group. A group of young men, including Thoby Stephen, the writer Lytton Strachey, and the art critic Clive Bell, who had studied together at Cambridge University continued to meet up regularly in London, at the Stephens’ new Gordon Square address. After her father had died, Vanessa Stephen was keen to move the family out of their dark and oppressive Victorian home, and start afresh.

In 1910 Adrian Stephen had a love affair with the artist Duncan Grant. He had been introduced to the group by his cousin, Lytton Strachey. It was also in that year that both Stephen and Grant participated in the famous Dreadnought Hoax, described by Stephen in a dryly humorous account published in 1936. In 1914 he married Karin Costelloe, and their two daughters, Ann and Judith, were both frequent visitors to Charleston as children. After the World War One Adrian and Karin became interested in Freud and were among the first English psychoanalysts. Two portraits of Adrian Stephen by Duncan Grant, both dating from c.1910, now hang at Charleston.