A Blagger’s Guide To The Bloomsbury Group

There’s no doubt the Bloomsbury Group covered a lot of intellectual bases: art, literature, modernism, pacifism, liberalism. This group of close friends revolutionised all areas of the arts. The Bloomsbury Group consisted of authors such as Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster, artists including Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Roger Fry, and all-round intellectuals like Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey and the economist John Maynard Keynes. The group was named after Bloomsbury in London where they lived, loved and engaged in intellectual debates for most of the twentieth century.

The Bloomsbury group is probably best known for Virginia Woolf and her contribution to modernist writing, obliterating written convention and Victorian realism. Her sister Vanessa Bell and friend Duncan Grant made similar strides in the visual arts. Their work was heavily influenced by French post-Impressionists, including Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso. They were indebted to another member, Roger Fry, who held the first ever post-Impressionist exhibitions in London in 1910 and 1912.

Aside from their creative achievements the Bloomsbury group were renowned for their sexual liaisons. Blaggers, take note, these are the juicy bits. Vanessa Bell married Clive Bell but after two children their marriage fell apart. Vanessa then began a liaison with the predominantly homosexual Duncan Grant with whom she lived with from 1917. The only complication was Grant’s lover David Garnett, who lived with them for most of the war. Vanessa had a child with Grant, Angelica Bell. Angelica, much to her parents’ disapproval, later married David Garnett, her father’s former lover. Jeremy Kyle, eat your heart out.

The Bloomsbury Group turned traditional ideas about art and life on their head; they are as relevant today as they were controversial in their own time.

Victoria Carter


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