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22 May 1980
The Shorter Strachey 
selected and introduced by Michael Holroyd and Paul Levy.
Oxford, 288 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 19 212211 8
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Lytton​ Strachey 
by Michael Holroyd.
Penguin, 1143 pp., £4.95, December 1979, 0 14 003198 7
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... It is odd that LyttonStrachey did not manage to strike up much fellow-feeling for Prospero. In an essay of 1904 on Shakespeare’s final period we find the puncturing remark (uncharacteristic of later deflationary measures only ...
19 February 1981
Memories 
by Frances Partridge.
Gollancz, 238 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 575 02912 9
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Notes from Sick Rooms 
by Leslie Stephen.
Puckerbrush, 52 pp., £1.50, March 1981, 0 913006 16 5
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... covers her life up till then – childhood, Bedales, Newnham, work at Birrell and Garnett’s bookshop in Taviton Street and, principally, her meeting with Ralph Partridge and involvement with the LyttonStrachey-Partridge-Carrington ménage at Ham Spray. And that is the trouble: we are offered a kind of Bloomsbury ‘Jennifer’s Diary’, with Raymond and Saxon and Maynard and James and Alix and ...

Short Legs

E.S. Turner

24 January 1980
Eminent Edwardians 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 255 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 436 06810 9
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... Who prizes objectivity? Not Piers Brendon, who has had enough of long ‘photographic’ biographies and is all for ‘the irradiation of an epoch by means of sharp biographical vignettes’ in the LyttonStrachey tradition. ‘The camera’s lens reflects verisimilitude,’ he writes, ‘whereas the prism of the artist’s imagination refracts truth.’ Is refracted truth a good thing? If it is ...

Ghost Artists

J.I.M. Stewart

18 December 1980
The Case of the Philosophers’ Ring by Dr John H. Watson 
by Randall Collins.
Harvester, 152 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 85527 458 1
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... main characters are Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, A.N. Whitehead. J.M. Keynes and G.E. Moore. Rather in the role of what are coming to be known as ‘guest artists’, room is also found for LyttonStrachey and Virginia Woolf. All these, together with Annie Besant, turn out to be goodies or near goodies, and over against them, as chief baddy, is Aleister Crowley, variously described as ‘the ...

Who is Laura?

Susannah Clapp

3 December 1981
Olivia 
by Olivia.
Hogarth, 109 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 7012 0177 0
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... had at last been shown to friends in London. Rosamond Lehmann had praised it; Leonard Woolf wanted to publish it. The story was Olivia; the author, anonymous on publication in 1949, was Dorothy Strachey Bussy, LyttonStrachey’s sister. Olivia is a piece of spirited homage, by a woman both spirited and prone to homage. Dorothy Strachey had some of her brother’s susceptibility to surroundings and ...
19 April 1990
Letters of Leonard Woolf 
edited by Frederic Spotts.
Weidenfeld, 616 pp., £30, March 1990, 0 297 79635 6
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... as a colonial administrator in Ceylon, and finding there very little society he was willing to describe as congenial, he sought consolation by correspondence with his Cambridge friends, especially LyttonStrachey. Later on, he wrote a multitude of letters as editor, publisher and politician. So it is not remarkable that in the course of his life he wrote thousands of them. We still do that, even ...

Ah, la vie!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Lytton Strachey’s letters

1 December 2005
The Letters of Lytton​ Strachey 
edited by Paul Levy.
Viking, 698 pp., £30, March 2005, 0 670 89112 6
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... LyttonStrachey loved reading letters, including the published kind, but after glancing at a few sentences of George Meredith’s correspondence in 1912, he felt ‘so nauseated’, he told Virginia Woolf, that he ...

Underlinings

Ruth Scurr: A.S. Byatt

10 August 2000
The Biographer's Tale 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 224 pp., £14.99, June 2000, 0 7011 6945 1
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... by Scholes Destry-Scholes (a spoof 20th-century scholar), cumbersomely under his arm. According to Goode, this is a work of genius. But it sounds suspiciously like one of those biographies that LyttonStrachey suspected the undertaker of composing as the final part of his job. Sure enough, the book turns out to contain a photograph of a bust of Florence Nightingale. A little later there is an echo ...

Wild Words

Stuart Hampshire

18 August 1983
A History of the Modern World: From 1917 to the 1980s 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 832 pp., £16.50, April 1983, 0 297 78226 6
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... the Bloomsbury group: ‘the influence of Bloomsbury had reached upwards and downwards by the 1930s to embrace almost the entire political nation. Among the Left intelligentsia, the patriotism which Strachey had so successfully sought to destroy had been replaced by a primary loyalty to Stalin.’ There is an exasperated tension in Mr Johnson’s beliefs and the excitement keeps the narrative going ...

Clive’s Clio

Hugh Tulloch

8 February 1990
Not by Fact Alone: Essays on the Writing and Reading of History 
by John Clive.
Collins Harvill, 334 pp., £15, October 1989, 0 00 272041 8
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... a single-mindedness Gladstone would have envied and calls us back to traditional values, while on television Mr A.N. Wilson approaches the eminent Victorians in a manner far different from that of LyttonStrachey seventy years ago. In 1918 Strachey intended to blow up, once and for all, the stale and inhibiting pieties of his parents and their generation. When the Oxford historian G.M. Young read ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke

19 October 2016
Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... analytic of human beings’. In private she called the memoir a ‘disgraceful sloppy sentimental rhapsody’ and Brooke himself ‘jealous, moody, ill-balanced’. There was a suggestion that James Strachey should write ‘something for us to print [at the Hogarth Press]. He’s sending us the letters to look at.’ Strachey had offered a review – it never appeared – to the Cambridge Magazine: ‘I ...
17 February 2000
The Charterhouse of Parma 
by Henri B. Stendhal, translated by Richard Howard.
Modern Library, 688 pp., £20.95, January 1999, 0 679 60245 3
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... The best thing on Stendhal in English is an essay by LyttonStrachey in which he remarks the way the author denovelises the novel while skilfully retaining all its traditional apparatus. Stendhal’s imagination is a kind of parody of Scott’s: his sensibility is ...
21 November 1985
Everything to lose: Diaries 1945-1960 
by Frances Partridge.
Gollancz, 383 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 575 03549 8
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... that period of my growing-up. What were the influences that I felt so keenly from Frances? What was it that was so peculiarly attractive about being at Ham Spray, the house left to the Partridges by LyttonStrachey? The answers lie in these diaries. First, there was her way of looking at nature, turning it into the nourishing visual feast which (for me) living in the country is all about: I went to ...
21 February 1991
Samuel Butler: A Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... at first under the auspices of Butler’s great friend Henry Festing Jones (the last dinner was in July 1914), and Forster was offered £25 by his publisher as an advance for a book about Butler. LyttonStrachey, who also found Butler immensely ‘cheering’, wanted to write on him in the Edinburgh Review; and Forster, who acknowledged himself as chief among the liberated, chose Erewhon for a radio ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Eleanor Birne: ‘A Crisis of Brilliance’

12 September 2013
... in the third row weren’t really men anymore, the picture’s public no longer found it strange that they were painted as abstract shapes with broken angles. Carrington’s portrait of her companion LyttonStrachey, also made in 1916, which hangs on the wall perpendicular to La Patrie, is a shocking, almost offensive contrast to it. The men in Nevinson’s painting are lying on the ground either dead ...

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