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Coats of Every Cut

Michael Mason, 9 June 1994

Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society 
by Norman Gash.
Oxford, 407 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 820429 9
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... when he has come under the notice of fairly ambitious critics, such as Siegfried Sassoon, Quentin Bell and Anthony Powell. There is very little published comment on Surtees from his own day, but what there is tends to be emphatic about his fidelity to life. ‘The account of the medical worthies who first made the Handley waters famous,’ said ...

Pretending to be the parlourmaid

John Bayley, 2 December 1993

Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell 
edited by Regina Marler, introduced by Quentin Bell.
Bloomsbury, 593 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 7475 1550 6
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... its visual artists. They are understood only too well, and patronised with faint praise. Clive Bell’s ‘Significant Form’ is an aesthetic curiosity, Roger Fry’s influence as a theorist long ago terminated. The pictures and decorative work of the Bloomsbury English Modernists – Bell, Fry, Duncan Grant, Dora ...

Doctors’ Orders

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 18 February 1982

‘All that summer she was mad’: Virginia Woolf and Her Doctors 
by Stephen Trombley.
Junction, 338 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 9780862450397
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... and moral ones, that ‘the manner in which Virginia’s madness is discussed by Leonard Woolf, Quentin Bell or the editors of the Letters and Diary shows that their use of the term is at best uncritical, and at worst irresponsible,’ Trombley sets out to show that there is no ‘concrete evidence’ that Virginia Woolf was mad. Or, to quote an early ...

Diary

Richard Usborne: On Cutting P.G. Wodehouse, 4 October 1984

... up Tanagra in the Subject Index. I was referred to a pamphlet: a print-off of an address given by Quentin Bell in May 1976 – his fifth Gwilym James Memorial Lecture at the University of Southampton. I recommend the pamphlet, titled ‘A Demotic Art’. It told me, learnedly and amusingly, just what I wanted to know about the ‘coroplasts of ...

Canons and Conveniences

Charles Hope, 21 February 1980

Ideals and Idols 
by E.H. Gombrich.
Phaidon, 224 pp., £9.95, November 1980, 0 7148 2009 1
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... of the canon is problematical, and he examines some of the difficulties in a correspondence with Quentin Bell which is included in the present volume. Their differences, which are never fully resolved, are focused on one central issue. Bell would accept a canon if the criterion of selection was historical importance ...

Georgie came, Harry went

Frank Kermode, 25 April 1991

A Passionate Apprentice. The Early Journals of Virginia Woolf, 1897-1909 
edited by Mitchell Leaska.
Hogarth, 444 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 7012 0845 7
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A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 338 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 224 02234 2
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... twenties Virginia was justifiably proud of earning some as a conscientious book reviewer. Clive Bell is said to have discovered in 1908 that Virginia had a future as a writer, but anybody who had seen the journals might have known it two or three years earlier. There is certainly plenty of evidence that ‘the instinct’ to write ‘wells like sap in a ...

No Clapping

Rosemary Hill: The Bloomsbury Memoir Club, 16 July 2014

The Bloomsbury Group Memoir Club 
by S.P. Rosenbaum, edited by James Haule.
Palgrave, 203 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 137 36035 9
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... have caused no consternation among listeners who included Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Clive Bell. Nor, perhaps, would Forster’s own discomfort with the question of Sex, which played a large, complicated part in his own life: ‘You work it out,’ his essay goes on: ‘I can’t so well.’ Increasingly anguished by the implications of his ...

All This Love Business

Jean McNicol: Vanessa and Julian Bell, 24 January 2013

Julian BellFrom Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War 
by Peter Stansky and William Abrahams.
Stanford, 314 pp., £38.95, 0 8047 7413 7
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... Julian Bell returned briefly to England in the spring of 1937. He was 29; he had been teaching in China for 18 months and was now determined to fight in Spain. Everyone knew this was his plan, or rather everyone except his mother, Vanessa, whom Julian had told that he might not go, that ‘of course it would depend on my persuading you ...

Living Doll and Lilac Fairy

Penelope Fitzgerald, 31 August 1989

Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... to Edward Thomas’s cottage. As it was, she found herself in Bloomsbury. Even if they were, as Quentin Bell called them, ‘as amorphous as friends can be’, they were nearly all highly literate, and judged accordingly. They treated her as a kind of peg-top doll, a sailor doll with blue eyes, ‘a thought unnaturally wide open,’ or, at best, as a ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... commissioned by Kenneth and Jane Clark was a grand Wedgwood dinner service created by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in 1935. The two artists chose to paint the 48 plates (out of 140 pieces) with a series of portraits of great women, including Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf themselves. ‘It ought to please the ...

Flirting

P.N. Furbank, 18 November 1982

The English World: History, Character and People 
edited by Robert Blake.
Thames and Hudson, 268 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 500 25083 9
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The English Gentleman: The Rise and Fall of an Ideal 
by Philip Mason.
Deutsch, 240 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 9780233974897
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... and Peace with Wales, Scotland and Ireland’ (Hugh Trevor-Roper), art and popular taste (Quentin Bell), the evolution of the English landscape (Richard Muir) – are excellent and briskly-written popularising surveys. But the whole enterprise, I do think, is compromised by those gestures towards ‘the English Spirit’, ‘the making of a ...

Fancy Dress

Peter Campbell: Millais, Burne-Jones and Leighton, 15 April 1999

Millais: Portraits 
by Peter Funnell and Malcolm Warner.
National Portrait Gallery, 224 pp., £35, February 1999, 1 85514 255 4
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John Everett Millais 
by G.H. Fleming.
Constable, 318 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 09 478560 0
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Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer 
by Stephen Wildman and John Christian.
Abrams, 360 pp., £48, October 1998, 0 8109 6522 4
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Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity 
edited by Tim Barringer and Elizabeth Prettejohn.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, March 1999, 0 300 07937 0
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... in the Campo Santo. The brilliant colour was the product of a technique the Brothers invented. Quentin Bell, who quotes Holman Hunt’s ‘recipe for painting a Pre-Raphaelite picture’ in his book Victorian Artists, points out that it was a fiendishly difficult way of working. You began by applying a layer of white, from which most of the oil had ...

Lady Talky

Alison Light: Lydia Lopokova, 18 December 2008

Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes 
by Judith Mackrell.
Weidenfeld, 476 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 0 297 84908 7
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... young men and intense young women with bobbed hair – and leading intellectuals too. Clive Bell praised the absence of naturalism and the emptying out of the characters; T.S. Eliot argued that on stage Massine embodied all that was ‘most completely unhuman, impersonal, abstract’. No longer clogged by Romanticism, soaring or sinking into emotion, it ...

At the Royal Academy

Julian Bell: Jean-Etienne Liotard, 19 November 2015

... in a quarrel he was waging, partly with other contemporary pastellists, such as the Rococo master Quentin de La Tour, but ultimately with the legacy of Rembrandt. Chiaroscuro and painterly flash were wrong: they didn’t look like ‘nature’ to the untrained eye of what Liotard called the ‘ignorart’. The ‘ignorart’, whether an Easterner, a bourgeois ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: What Writers Wear, 26 July 2017

... would conventionally deny them that are the most revealing. This was the impulse that propelled Quentin Crisp, ‘blind with mascara and dumb with lipstick’, through the ‘dim streets of Pimlico’. ‘Sometimes I wore a fringe so deep that it completely obscured the way ahead,’ he recalls. ‘This hardly mattered. There were always others to look ...

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