Martin Ferguson Smith
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Bloomsbury in the book’s title is the “Bloomsbury Group” of writers, artists, thinkers, and theorists associated with the Bloomsbury area of London and active in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Essays 1–6 are mainly, but by no means exclusively, about four of its pivotal members – the artists Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell, the art critic Clive Bell, and the writer Virginia Woolf. The essays do not attempt a comprehensive account of their lives and works, and the same is true of the writers and the artist treated in the five out-of-Bloomsbury essays – Rose Macaulay, Katharine Tynan, Dorothy L. Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien’s schoolteacher Richard Williams Reynolds, and Tristram Hillier. Instead, the intention is to enhance knowledge and understanding of them by presentation of previously unpublished texts and works of art, pictures, and photographs, and by the close re-examination of known documents. Rebecca West warns that biography is often heavily reliant on speculation. The present book prefers to deal in hard facts, many of them previously unknown. The mixture of Bloomsbury and non-Bloomsbury, present even in the Bloomsbury essays, makes possible a varied and balanced picture of the cultural scene in the first half of the twentieth century.

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In and out of Bloomsbury

Biographical essays on twentieth-century writers and artists


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