The Bloomsbury Group: Background information when reading Vanessa and Her Sister

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Vanessa and Her Sister

by Priya Parmar

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar X
Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2014, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2015, 368 pages

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The Bloomsbury Group

This article relates to Vanessa and Her Sister

Print Review

While Vanessa And Her Sister focuses on artist Vanessa Bell and her writer sister, Virginia Woolf, it also places them in the larger context of the famous Bloomsbury Group, which was a set of intellectuals who debated radical ideas about society, ethics and a host of other issues. Founding members included Virginia Woolf and her siblings - sister, Vanessa Bell, and brothers Thoby and Adrian. Other key members included critic and biographer Giles Lytton Strachey, and the writer E.M. Forster. Even noted economist Joseph Maynard Keynes was a central figure. While the group became friends in college (most of the "Bloomsberries" men studied at Cambridge's Trinity or King's College), it was not until Virginia and her siblings moved into a home in Gordon Square in the Bloomsbury District of London (close to the British Museum), that the group coalesced into an entity, regularly meeting over dinners to discuss ideas.

Some Members of the Bloomsbury Group The Bloomsberries got their start around the beginning of the twentieth century, a time when Victorian principles of life largely held sway over England. They rejected these ideals and believed in more progressive values such as acceptance of homosexuality and open marriages. Their unconventional values brought admirers as well as critics. They were often accused of being snobbish and elitist with no self-control.

Despite the brickbats, the Bloomsbury Group's contributions to literature and the larger thought movement remain undisputed. Their anti-establishmentarianism, as reflected by their work (Woolf became a prominent feminist icon and E. M. Forster wrote about the ills of imperialism, for example), paved the way for a new way of challenging established conventions. The group disbanded in the 1930s after the sudden death of a few members.

Full list of members:

  1. Woolf, Virginia (1882-1941)
  2. Forster, E. M. (1879-1970)
  3. Strachey, Giles Lytton (1880-1932)
  4. Bell, Clive (1881-1964)
  5. Keynes, John Maynard (1883-1946)
  6. Fry, Roger (1866-1934)
  7. Grant, Duncan (1885-1978)
  8. MacCarthy, Desmond (1877-1952)
  9. Bell, Vanessa Stephen (1879-1961)
  10. Woolf, Leonard (1880-1969)
  11. MacCarthy, Mary (1882-1953)
  12. Stephen, Thoby (1880-1906)
  13. Stephen, Adrian (1883-1948)
  14. Carrington, Dora (1893-1932)
  15. Sydney-Turney, Saxon (1880-1962)

Left to right: Lady Ottoline Morrell, Maria Nys (neither members of Bloomsbury), Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, and Vanessa Bell from book Lytton Strachey: His Mind And Art

This "beyond the book article" relates to Vanessa and Her Sister. It originally ran in January 2015 and has been updated for the October 2015 paperback edition.

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