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At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are

5 July 2007
... Nelson’s Miss Lincolnshire, taken last year. Include very small cartes-de-visite portraits and Alastair Thain’s huge close-up colour photographs of exhausted marines. Set an amateur snapshot by VanessaBell, a glamour portrait by David Bailey, and a picture of a nurse in uniform from Belle View Studio in Bradford against one another. One aim the curators had when they settled on this melange – a ...

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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... the ‘kid glove and tiara set’ in the stalls, the balletomanes in the cheap gallery seats – bearded 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 ...


Mary Ann Caws: Roland Penrose’s notebooks

19 October 2006
Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose 
by Elizabeth Cowling.
Thames and Hudson, 408 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 500 51293 0
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... with Paris, with French art and with the poet Valentine Boué, whom he met in Cassis. He had a villa there from 1923, set up a studio with Yanko Varda, and became close friends with Duncan Grant, VanessaBell and Virginia and Leonard Woolf, all of whom spent time in Cassis during those years. Through Max Ernst, a friend of Boué’s, he met the Surrealist poets and painters, and with Herbert Read and ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot

3 February 2011
Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... she declines to mention – the proposition is not simply counter-intuitive, it’s a plain misuse of a historically meaningful term. As is her claim that the wartime murals done by Duncan Grant and VanessaBell in the Sussex church of Berwick, 30 years after their moment at London’s artistic forefront, somehow represent a ‘homecoming of modernism’: on the contrary, the artists were reverting to ...

Vita Longa

Mary-Kay Wilmers

1 December 1983
Vita: The Life of V. Sackville-West 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Weidenfeld, 430 pp., £12.50, September 1983, 0 297 78306 8
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... of the wit of the artist’, Virginia Woolf noted in her diary for 15 December 1922. She had met Vita for the first time the previous evening. The Nicolsons were introduced into Bloomsbury by Clive Bell and generally considered a bad thing: ‘I mean,’ wrote Mrs Woolf, ‘we judged them both incurably stupid. He is bluff, but oh so obvious; she, Duncan thought, took the cue from him and had ...

Happy you!

Rosemary Dinnage

21 July 1994
Intimate Letters: Leoš Janáček to Kamilá Stösslová 
edited and translated by John Tyrrell.
Faber, 397 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 571 14466 7
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Pirandello’s Love Letters to Marta Abba 
edited and translated by Benito Ortolani.
Princeton, 363 pp., £24.95, June 1994, 0 691 03499 0
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Significant Others: Creativity and Intimate Partnership 
edited by Whitney Chadwick and Isabelle de Courtivron.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £14.95, June 1993, 9780500015667
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... austere Leonard Woolf and his cups of hot milk. Woolf did, incidentally, write in her diary that if her father were still alive she could have written nothing: a significant other can be damaging. Of VanessaBell and Duncan Grant, Lisa Tickner points out how Bell’s art flowered during her first years with Grant. It also declined thereafter; and the deep sadness picked up by the portraits and photos of ...

Make use of me

Jeremy Treglown: Olivia Manning

9 February 2006
Olivia Manning: A Life 
by Neville Braybrooke and June Braybrooke.
Chatto, 301 pp., £20, November 2004, 0 7011 7749 7
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... to the crushing of female literary talent, the proper concerns of which lay elsewhere. Woolf was a heroine of Manning’s teens. The Braybrookes tell us that ‘she used to have dreams in which VanessaBell and her sister Virginia came floating towards her like beautiful swans.’ An assiduous user of the public library, the young Olivia took out Jacob’s Room almost as soon as it arrived there ...

Strenuously Modern

Rosemary Hill: At Home with the Stracheys

3 March 2005
Bombay to Bloomsbury: A Biography of the Strachey Family 
by Barbara Caine.
Oxford, 488 pp., £25, February 2005, 0 19 925034 0
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... his modernity. In fact her only love affair was with a man, a married MP, Josiah Wedgwood, who, when he eventually divorced, married somebody else. Marjorie was heartbroken, much to the amusement of VanessaBell and Ottoline Morrell, who had set the whole thing up as a spiteful joke in the first place. Depending on the view one forms of the Stracheys, Marjorie, who seems to have been largely good ...
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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... to her father, notorious for his superfluous agonies over it, money was very important. In her early 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 ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe

27 September 2012
All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... conspicuously successful – especially at recruiting starry contributors from the ranks of their friends in Bloomsbury and other bohemian redoubts. However fleetingly, Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, VanessaBell, Raymond Mortimer, Roger Fry, Vita Sackville-West, Frederick Ashton and the like made Vogue, for a couple of seasons, a contemporary intellectual and artistic touchstone. Still, it ended in ...

Terror on the Vineyard

Terry Castle: Boss Ladies, Watch Out!

15 April 1999
A Likely Story: One Summer with Lillian Hellman 
by Rosemary Mahoney.
Doubleday, 273 pp., $23.95, November 1998, 9780385479318
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... twenty years they might be said to constitute a popular mini-genre. Angelica Garnett’s Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood (1984), with its quietly devastating portrait of her mother VanessaBell, is one of the more subtle; more tendentious is Maria Riva’s Marlene Dietrich (1992) – another mother-daughter horror story – or Bianca Lamblin’s 1993 Mémoires d’une jeune fille dé ...
6 December 1984
Frederic Harrison: The Vocations of a Positivist 
by Martha Vogeler.
Oxford, 493 pp., £27.50, September 1984, 0 19 824733 8
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Leslie Stephen: The Godless Victorian 
by Noël Annan.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £16.50, September 1984, 0 297 78369 6
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... got our first introduction to the history of ideas in the 18th century from Stephen, whereas Harrison’s historical work is likewise forgotten. But Stephen was also the father of Virginia Woolf and VanessaBell, the original of Mr Ramsay in To the Lighthouse, and a figure in many memoirs that happen to interest us because Bloomsbury interests us. We have a strong preconception of Stephen’s rich ...

Humph, He, Ha

Julian Barnes: Degas’s Achievement

4 January 2018
Degas: A Passion for Perfection 
Fitzwilliam Museum/Cambridge, until 14 January 2018Show More
Degas Danse Dessin: Hommage à Degas avec Paul Valéry 
Musée d’Orsay/Paris, until 25 February 2018Show More
Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell 
National Gallery, London, until 7 May 2018Show More
Degas and His Model 
by Alice Michel, translated by Jeff Nagy.
David Zwirner, 88 pp., £8.95, June 2017, 978 1 941701 55 3
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... really unusual Alma-Tadema portrait, an Egyptian terracotta statue, a Thomas Jones or a Lorenzo di Credi metalpoint; or that the largest picture on view would be a frothy, larky double portrait by VanessaBell of Mr and Mrs Maynard Keynes. The show is densely hung, with ten sections crammed into three rooms; but this rather serves as a confirmation of the hurlyburlyness of art’s history, and of how ...

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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... that the doctors in question were incapable of distinguishing medical judgments from social 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 ...


Michael Church

9 October 1986
The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... through the mud was not very different from stalking partridges, as he noted in his game book: ‘November 16th; 1 Pomeranian. November 17th; 2 Pomeranians.’ Two decades later in Spain, Julian Bell informed his mother Vanessa that the war in which he was serving as an ambulance man was ‘perpetually entertaining and very satisfactory’, one of the chief pleasures being ‘getting back into ...

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